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MIDRASH RABBAH 

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH 

WITH NOTES, GLOSSARY AND INDICES 

UNDER THE EDITORSHIP OF 

RABBI DR. H. FREEDMAN, B.A., PH.D. 

AND 

MAURICE SIMON, M.A. 



WITH A FOREWORD BY 
RABBI DR. L EPSTEIN, B.A., PH.D., D.LIT. 



IN TEN VOLUMES 



THE SONCINO PRESS 
LONDON 



First Edition 1939 
Second Impression 1951 
Third Impression 1961 



PRINTED IN ENGLAND BY 
STEPHEN AUSTIN AND SONS, LTD., HERTFORD 



GENESIS 

IN TWO VOLUMES 
I 



TRANSLATED BY 
RABBI DR. H. FREEDMAN, B.A., PH.D. 



CONTENTS 

Foreword by Rabbi Dr. I". Epstein page ix 

Editorial Preface xxv 

Introduction to Genesis Rabbah xxvii 

Bereshith i 

Noach 233 

Lech Lecha 313 

Vayera 406 



FOREWORD 

by 

RABBI DR. L EPSTEIN, B.A., PH.D., DXIT. 



In the earliest periods of the history of Israel and Judah, 
when yet the twelve tribes were warring with each other, 
when the ideas of king and priest were yet elementary 
and vague, we find leaders who proclaimed that God is 
and must remain the sole ruler of the tribes, and that 
through the government of the Lord who is One and 
Everlasting, the unity of the individual, the nation, and 
humanity must be found. 

This only God and Supreme King had spoken to their 
ancestors at Sinai through the Law, and continued to 
speak to them through priest and prophet. What He had 
said and commanded was gathered up in books, which 
became The Book, the Torah, by which their individual 
and national life was to be guided. Thus arose and 
developed the religion of Israel. Grounded in the Book 
and centred in God, it was not like the Roman religion, 
the creature of the State, nor was it ever to derive its 
inspiration from political feeling. For the Jews, religion 
itself was to be an independent and positive source of 
inspiration, and its acceptance the chief foundation upon 
which the Jewish State was to rear itself. 

But surrounding nations surged against them. Con- 
quering Empires rose and fell. Israel was taken captive 
and disappeared from history as a separate entity. Judah 
too fell a prey to Babylonia, but was restored after Babylon 
fell to the Medes. Then began within Judah a centuries- 
long, heroic struggle for the inviolability of the Book. 
Its laws and precepts and ordinances had to be interpreted 
both literally and spiritually. The changes in the people's 
circumstances could not be neglected. Besides the written 

ix 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

Law there had been from the first, from the divine com- 
munications to Moses, onwards, an unwritten Law handed 
down from generation to generation — an unwritten Law 
which lawgiver and prophet strove to engrave in the heart 
of the people. The written and unwritten must co-operate 
in the guidance of the Jewish people struggling against 
the inrolling civilisations of Greece and Rome, the un- 
written being the dynamic factor of change, the written 
the abiding fundamental factor. 

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MIDRASH 

A decisive move in this struggle on behalf of the Book 
was made by Ezra. It was in the year 444 b.c.e.; twelve 
years after his return from Babylonia. Fired by the zeal 
to make the reign of the Torah supreme in the newly 
re-created lives of the returned Exiles, he summoned 
a large gathering of the people and secured in their presence 
by means of a covenant signed by their leaders the accep- 
tance of the Torah as the constitution of the new com- 
munity in Judea. He inaugurated this memorable con- 
vocation, which proved to be the turning-point in the 
history of the Jewish people, by a public reading of the 
Law. Himself ' a ready Sofer (lit. "Bookman", "Student") 1 
of the Law of Moses which the Lord had given \ z he took 
the lead in the reading, while others who stood by 'gave 
the sense } : ' And they read in the book, in the Torah of 
God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, and caused them 
to understand the reading. >z 

Thus began the Midrash — orally at first. The people 
evidently would not have understood a reading which 
was completely out of touch with the currents of thought 
of their time or in conflict with their collective aspirations 
and traditions. In their endeavour to cause the people 
to understand the reading, Ezra and~ his associates (the 
Soferim) had to build bridges between the past and the 

1 V. Strack, H. L., Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (English 
Ed.), p. 201. 

2 Ezra vii, 6. 

8 Neh. vin, 8. 



FOREWORD 

present. For these spiritual guides of Israel it was in- 
conceivable that the sense of the Torah of God might 
be in conflict with the fundamental conditions of Jewish 
life. The letters of the Holy Writ were not meant to kill 
the spirit. They were intended as containers ever to be 
filled with the wine of good, new vintage. Has not after 
all 'Every word of the Scripture "seventy aspects'"? 
mm 1 ? D'flD cran^. 1 These 'aspects' were latent; and 
as generation after generation found expression for some 
or other of these aspects, they revealed again and anew 
the Torah which Moses received on Sinai. 

ITS EARLIEST INFLUENCE 

The Midrash thus created and brought into shape by 
the Soferim for the purpose of expounding the Torah — 
and later also other parts of the Hebrew Scriptures — 
fulfilled a vital necessity. For centuries after Ezra, it 
represented the most important medium for the expression 
of Jewish thought and teaching. Midrash was in fact 
during the whole of the Soferic period (which came to 
an end about 270 b.ce.) the Queen of Jewish spiritual 
life. With the emergence of Mishnah about the second 
century, Midrash was obliged to share in the realms of 
the Halachah its kingdom with its new rival 2 ; but despite 
its disputed rule Midrash did not cease to exercise sway 
over the heart and mind of the people. There were as 
yet no reasons for the rift between Halachah and Haggadah 

1 v&py 'ti r);\hiK. 

2 On the problem as to the priority of the Midrash-form of study 
over the Mishnah-form, v. Lauterbach, L. Z., JQR. (N.S.), v, pp. 503- 
527, and vi, pp. 23-95, 3°3~323, Herford, R. T., Talmud and Apocrypha , 
pp. 46 fT., and Tchernowitz, Ch., Toledoth Ha-Halakah (History of 
the Halakah), 1, pp. 37-61. In this connection the illuminating state- 
ment of Moore (Judaism, I, p. 150) may be quoted as apposite: 'The 
question which is the older method of study, Midrash or Mishnah, 
is one of those simplified alternatives to which a simple answer cannot 
be given. There is a strong presumption that the biblical studies of 
the ancient Soferim and of the learned in the priesthood were primarily 
directed to the interpretation of the Scriptures, so far as they dealt 
with the laws and the more precise understanding and application of 
what the Scripture enjoined or forbade. In this sense the Midrash- 
form is older/ 

xi 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

that developed, as we shall see, in the course of the 
Talmudic period and which eventually led Midrash to 
become an independent branch of Rabbinic literature; 
and during the whole of the post-scriptural and pre- 
talmudic period the teaching both of Halachah and 
Haggadah was conducted in Midrash-form. 

Midrash, as one of the literary forms in which the 
Jewish creative genius in the realms in Haggadah expressed 
itself, left its deep impress on the Bible itself. In one of 
its functions as a collection of contributions to the history 
of Israel, Midrashic elements were assimilated to the 
Hebrew Scriptures. We find in Chronicles passages 
which are Midrashic glosses, supplementing in many 
details the narratives in the Book of Kings. 1 There is 
also a Midrash to the Book of Kings mentioned in 
II Chronicles xxiv, 27, whilst reference to the Midrash 
of Iddo the Prophet is made in 11 Chronicles xin, 22. 
We may thus suppose that we have in Chronicles the 
first elements of Haggadic Midrash handed down in 
writing in their original form. After the completion of 
the Hebrew Scriptures, Midrashic creation in Haggadah 
obtained a dominating position in the spiritual life of 
Jewry. For a long period it was the vehicle for Jewish 
ideas, thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. Among the 
oldest Haggadic Midrashim is undoubtedly The Haggadah 
recited on Passover evening, which according to one 
authority 2 was compiled between the second half of the 
third century and the first half of the second century 

B.C.E. 

MIDRASH AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HALACHAH 

A specimen of an early Halachic Midrashic exposition 
of the Torah emanating according to competent authorities 8 

1 On the Midrashic character of Chronicles v Elmslie, W. A, h , 
Introduction to Chronicles, Cambridge Bible. 

2 Finkelstein, L., The Oldest Midrash, The Harvard Theological 
Review, 1938, pp. 291 ff. 

3 V. Herford, R. T., Talmud and Apocrypha, p. 48. 

xii 



FOREWORD 

from the Soferic school is preserved in the Mishnah 
Sotah, vn, 2. It expounds Deut. xx, 3 : 'The priest anointed 
for battle . . . shall say unto them . . . against your 
enemies ,' but not against your brethren, not Judah against 
Simeon nor Simeon against Benjamin, so that if you fall 
into their hand they shall have mercy upon you, as it is 
said, And the men which have been expressed by name 
rose up, and took the captives, and with their spoil clothed 
all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod 
them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, 
and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought 
them to Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto their brethren; 
then they returned to Samaria (11 Chron. xxvin, 15). 

Here we have one of the earliest typical examples of a 
Midrashic exposition of the Torah. The interpretation 
seems to adapt the law of the Torah to a new situation 
which had not been provided for in the text. There is no 
distinction in the original text of the Torah between 
'enemy' and 'enemy*. Strictly speaking, the word 'enemy' 
denotes any foe with whom one goes to battle. In the 
exposition cited a distinction is made, owing to the fact 
that a sort of ' Red Cross service ' for the sick and wounded 
seems to have been created, the scope of which, however, 
was restricted to wars among Jews themselves. This new 
situation involved a modification of the law at least in 
certain of its regulations x in respect of such civil wars. 
The Midrash gives apparently the whole process of 
reasoning which led to such a modification, and thereby 
holds open the way for further development, any funda- 
mental change in the methods of warfare being bound 
to react on the laws concerned. Should 'frightfulness 1 , 
for example, be given up by other peoples too, should 
they also exercise mercy on their prisoners and wounded 
enemies, then the Law would be generally modified and 
the introduction of a certain measure of 'conscript' 
service would be permissible. 

1 Particularly the prohibition of conscription implied in Deut. xx, 8: 
What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return 
unto his house, 

xiii 



MIDRASH RABBAH 
MIDRASH AND MISHNAH 

This Halachic Midrash exemplifies more clearly than 
any Haggadic Midrash could do the formal and material 
differences of Midrash and Mishnah. As to the form, 
the Mishnah teaches the Halachah without reference 
to any Scriptural text. Evidently the Mishnah represented 
a progress in the method of teaching. While Midrash 
was tied to the texts of the respective Scriptures, the 
Tannaim were able through the Mishnah-form to put 
at will on the order of the day such subjects as they desired. 
The need for methodical regrouping could, however, 
have been satisfied without abandoning the Midrash- 
form and all its implications. The Scriptural text could 
still have remained the basis of the 'expositions' in a 
Midrash whose contents needed only to be regrouped 
according to subjects. This method, which would have 
been a kind of re-editing of Midrashic expositions, was 
not resorted to. We may assume that there were other 
reasons apart from pedagogical, for introducing Mishnah 
as a rival of Midrash. The final victory of the Mishnah- 
form with its logical sequence, the Halachic Gemara, 
bore witness to the determination of the learned of Israel 
to build up an unalterable system of directives. There 
was now no question any longer of a bridge between past 
and present. Mishnah and Gemara were meant to be 
a fortress able to offer resistance to any enemy possessing 
even the most dangerous weapons, from the Sadduceans 
down to the Karaites, their latter-day spiritual descendants* 

HALACHAH AND HAGGADAH 

We do not know when the words Halachah and Haggadah 
were first introduced. 1 But we would probably not be 
mistaken if we suppose that the time of their first divorce 
coincides with the introduction of the Mishnah-form. 

The emergence of two distinct terms need not necessarily 
have meant a rift or rivalry between the respective 

1 V. Herford, op cit., p. 50. 

XIV 



FOREWORD 



disciplines these terms represented. The fact that Midrashic 
exposition in the Soferic and pre-Talmudic period found 
no difficulty in following the Scriptures verse by verse 
regardless of whether their character was Halachic or 
Haggadic proves that in all respects harmony and equality 
between Halachic and Haggadic exposition reigned. The 
teachers were the same, and the form of teaching was the 
same. When the same person was building up a system 
of which Halachah and Haggadah were the component 
parts, the full harmony of the system was obviously safe- 
guarded. But even if different persons happened to 
expound separately verses of Halachic and Haggadic 
character, they had— if ever such a necessity arose — to 
co-ordinate their expositions, in view of the fact that they 
all started from the same point, from Scriptural texts, 
from the Law of Moses. Under these conditions Halachah, 
representing the religious rules of practical life, and 
Haggadah, embodying the philosophy of the generation, 
existed side by side in complete unity. 

FREEDOM OF SPIRIT IN THE MIDRASH 

The sharp distinction which we find later between the 
significance of the two terms Halachah and Haggadah 
was a result of Talmudic development. The personal 
unity came to an end. There were teachers of the Haggadah 
(rabbanan di-Aggadeta), who presumably restricted their 
activity to Midrashic exposition of exclusively Haggadic 
character; while Mishnah supplemented by Gemara took 
more and more the form of categorical pronouncements 
on the religious law, and the discussion and applica- 
tion of its details. The characteristic Mishnaic form was 
the formulation of a decision which closed a debate. In 
many cases the Gemara reopens the debate, but only in 
order to close it again as categorically as the Mishnah did, 
though often on a different plane, embodying adaptations 
which the process of time had rendered necessary. These 
adaptations were adopted only after prolonged arguments 
between conflicting schools representing in many cases 

xv b 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

the forces of cautious conservatism on the one hand, and 
impatient progress on the other. More often the decision 
lagged behind the times, change being barred by definitive 
Mishnaic law and precedent. The Haggadah, however, 
in so far as it did not serve only to justify an a posteriori 
Talmudic decision already fixed, and as such unalterable, 
retained, especially in the Midrashim, its old freedom 
and its full potentialities. It, too, was governed in its 
interpretation of the Bible by certain norms of exposition 
which served as a check against the riot of untrammelled 
imagination. But whereas the Halachah was restricted to 
seven rules which even when expanded by Rabbi Ishmael 
(c. 90-130 c.e.) became no more than thirteen, the 
Haggadah enjoyed the greater latitude allowed by the 
thirty-two rules for Haggadic interpretation formulated 
by his contemporary R. Jose ha-Gelili (the Galilean). 
As ever before, the Haggadic Midrash continued to 
express the ideas, aspirations, hopes, fears, and collective 
thoughts of the people of Israel in successive generations. 
Many of the thoughts in the Haggadic Midrash were due 
to poetic inspiration, and these were often ahead of their 
times. In this sense they were prophetic, and in respect 
of function they continued the prophetic tradition, though 
formally and chronologically they were the direct 
descendants of the Scriptures, children of their verses, 
souls of their soul. 



PERIOD OF MIDRASHIC CREATIVE ACTIVITY 

The abandonment by the Halachah of the Midrash-form 
gave rise to the production of Haggadic writings which 
henceforth became synonymous with Midrashim. Simeon 
b. Pazzi in the first half of the third century was known 
as an editor of Haggadah (Mesadder Aggadeta) 1 ; and 
R. Johanan is more explicit still in regard to the existence 
of Haggadic compilations when he declares, 'A covenant 
has been effected : whoever learns Haggadah from a 

1 Ber. 10a. V., however, Strack, op. cit.> p. 14. 

xvi 



FOREWORD 

book will not easily forget it/ 1 The opinions recorded 
against the writing down of Haggadic creation are only 
further proofs of the fact that there were others who did 
put these Haggadoth, i.e. Midrashim, into writing. 

The most flourishing period of Haggadic activity was 
in Palestine in the third and fourth centuries, when the 
Academies were on the decline and spiritual life in Palestine 
found its only refuge in the Synagogue in which the Torah 
was taught and sermons delivered. The teacher and 
preacher often took the same floor and a probably un- 
intentional competition developed between them which 
often worked out to the disadvantage of the teacher. 
The popularity of the exposition of the Holy Writ, with 
the help of legend, parable, story, saw, and maxim, was 
ever growing. The masses of the people were drawn to 
the sermons which were full of such expositions and 
usually delivered on Sabbath and holy days. Hieronymus, 
who lived in Palestine, reports as an eye witness (about 420) 
that Jews would call one to another, 'Let us go and listen 
to this or that preacher who possesses a wonderful talent/ 2 



LATER MIDRASHIC COMPILATIONS 

Some of the Midrashic creations of the Talmudic 
epoch found their way into the Talmud. This happened 
mostly when Haggadic motives of one kind or another 
entered into the course of some Halachic discussion. 
This was often the case; and therefore the Mishnah, 
Tosefta, and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds 
are rich in Haggadic material. With the close of the 
Talmudic period creative Haggadic (and therefore 
Midrashic) activity came to an end. In the post-Amoraic 
and Geonic period the Midrashic activity was restricted 
to the field of collecting and revising the transmitted 
Midrashic material. The Karaite insurrection in the 

1 J. Ber. V, 1. 

* V. Dubnow, S. M., Weltgeschichte des judischen Volkes, vol. m, 
p. 381. 

xvii 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

eighth century was favourable neither to Halachic nor 
to Haggadic activity : yet as a medium of literary expression 
the Midrash did not fall into disuse even after the Talmud 
had long been completed, and Midrashim were compiled 
down to the eleventh century. 

Midrashic creation and compilation extend, as we have 
seen, in an unbroken line from the days of Ezra to the 
eleventh century. In the later part of this period the only 
kind of Midrash produced was the Haggadic. The 
Midrashim compiled concurrently with or just after the 
process of the creation of the Talmud were Midrashim 
in every sense of the word, and as a spiritual factor — 
owing to their Haggadistic contents — became more and 
more separated from the Halachah which dwelt exclusively 
in the Talmud. 

STYLE AND CHARACTERISTICS 

In all the Midrashic compilations either of contemporary 
creation or as the result of purely 'editorial' work, no 
attempt was made to reproduce in full dress the contents 
of the sermons of the great masters of the Haggadah. 
They merely record the central ideas from which flowed 
the whole process of thought of the preachers and round 
which they wove their orations and picturesque homilies. 
This accounts for their style being laconic, pithy, and 
terse, at times to the point of obscurity. It is well to 
remember this before criticising the Midrash for its 
apparent unintelligibility in places, as is sometimes done. 
It should also be borne in mind that some Midrashic 
paragraphs owe their preservation to the very obscurity 
of their meaning. This meaning might have consisted 
in political allusions, and contemporaries certainly possessed 
the key to many of the passages which to us appear a 
confusing mass of words. And these same Midrashim, 
if 'decoded' by the research and investigation of savants, 
may be made to throw new light on the life, religion, and 
history of a past age. Thus more material may be added 
to the historical facts embedded in the traditional lore in 

xviii 



FOREWORD 

the Midrash, which have already proved to be invaluable 
data for the knowledge of the history of Israel. 

Another criticism levelled against the Midrash is the 
simplicity exhibited in its construction and modes of 
expression. In truth, simple forms are proofs of inner 
strength, based upon the harmony of ideas and facts- 
Complicated forms are on the contrary signs of decline, 
as they betray difficulties in the endeavour to reconcile 
ideas with facts, formal truths with organic truth, aspira- 
tions with possibilities of attainment. 

POPULARITY OF THE MIDRASH 

The purely Haggadic character of the Midrash has 
been the cause of its immense popularity — a popularity 
which the passage of years has only served to confirm 
and strengthen. As ever in the past the Midrash retains 
to-day for the religious Jew the significance attached to 
it in the classical sentence : ' If thou wishest to know Him 
at whose command the world came into existence, learn 
Haggadah, for thereby shalt thou know the Holy One, 
blessed be He, and cling to His ways/ 1 Its sweet and 
potent influences have, moreover, been all -pervasive. Not 
only has it ever served as an inexhaustible source of 
inspiration to teacher and preacher, but it has also enriched 
the literature and liturgy of the Jew and his very life. 
Charged with messages, infinite in variety, which age 
cannot wither nor custom stale, the Midrash has ever 
proved an unfailing spring with the power to refreshen 
and renew, sustain and strengthen the Jew athirst for 
the word of the Living God. Whether in joy or sorrow, 
storm or sunshine, it never failed to yield the right message 
of moral sustenance and help. And to the present day, 
the learned Jewish layman will turn to the Midrash for 
solace and comfort from the turmoil and strife of work-a-day 
life, and the assiduous student of the law finds in it a 
welcome and refreshing retreat from the rigorous discipline 
of the battlefield of the Halachah. 

1 Sifre to Deut. xi, 22. 

xix 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

ITS UNIVERSAL INFLUENCE 

The influence of Jewish Midrashic activity was not 
restricted to Jews. Its sway extended far and wide, and 
much of the religious, moral, and ethical thought and 
teaching alike of Christianity and Islam was fashioned 
by the ideas to which the Midrash gave birth and which 
they adopted either in toto, or after reshaping them for 
their own ends. Apart from the New Testament, which 
so abounds with Midrashic elements that it has been not 
unjustly termed 'a masterpiece of the Haggadah', 1 the 
Church Fathers fully understood the importance of the 
Midrashic method employed with telling effect by con- 
temporary Jewish preachers in the service of the Jewish 
spirit, and resolved to resort to the same spiritual weapon 
in order to place the dogmatic system of the Church on a 
firm basis. Eusebius (d. 350) already praises Midrashic 
preachers, the 'Deuterotai' (as distinguished from the 
Halachic teachers, the ' Sophoi'), as 'men armed with 
extraordinary reasoning powers able to penetrate into 
the deepest meaning of the Holy Writ'. Ephraem 
Syrus, Chrysostom the 'golden mouthed', Augustine 
introduced Midrash in their apologetic works. Hieronymus 
especially drew extensively upon Midrashic sources, and 
thanks to his association with Palestinian Amoraim has 
been able to hand down to us a number of most daring 
Midrashic expositions. 2 

The considerable indebtedness of Mahommed to the 
Midrash for the legendary and other material which he 
incorporated in the Koran has already been proved over 
a century ago by Abraham Geiger in his work, Was hat 
Mohammed aus detn Judenthume aufgenommen ? 3 Midrash 
also played its part in leading the thought of the Middle 
Ages into new channels and preparing the way for what 
was of permanent value in the Renaissance. Guillaumc 
D'Auvergne (first half of the thirteenth century), the 

1 Renan, E., Histoire du Peuple d' Israel (1893), v, p. 321. 

2 V. Dubnow, S. M., op. at., p. 2586. 

3 Published first at Bonn 1833. 

XX 



FOREWORD 

first representative of the new spirit in scholasticism, 
shows in his De Universo marked traces of Midrashic 
influence. 1 Nicholas de Lyra, the most learned Christian 
Hebraist of the fourteenth century, whose influence on 
Luther is expressed in the well-known tag: Si Lyra non 
lyrasset Lutherus non saltasset? made much use of Midrashic 
material in his Postillae Perpetuae? And during the post- 
Reformation period, while Pascal in France was pressing 
Midrashic ideas into the service of Jansenism in his 
theological writings, 4 Milton in Puritan England was 
constructing his great epic Paradise Lost and its sequel 
Paradise Regained out of material supplied to him from 
Midrashic sources. 5 



ITS UNBROKEN CONTINUITY 

We have seen the evidence of the centuries-long 
Midrashic activity, and in the Midrash Rabbah we have 
before us a monumental collection of the written testimony 
to this activity. It exhibits an unbroken row of pearls 
all of the same high quality, the first of which was strung 
by the early Soferim and the last perhaps by an anonymous 
scribe 1,500 years later. If ever a work was created 
by the collective spirit of a people, such a work is the 
Midrash, If ever the spirit of a people could claim to 
possess the highest degree of consistency, then the spirit 
which created the Midrash would entitle the Jews to 
make that claim. 

At the same time the Midrash, in virtue of the amazing 
consistency of its creation, is also a most valuable proof 
of the progressive spirit of the Jewish people. It is a 
fundamental characteristic of Midrash that it keeps its 
gates open. It never closes a debate — that would be 

1 V. Guttmann, J., R.E.J., xvm, pp. 245 ff. 

2 If Lyra had not played the lyre (the tune), Luther would not have 
danced. 

3 V. Neumann, J., JR.£J., xxvi, pp. 177 ff. 

4 V. Seidmann, E., Pascal und das Alte Testament, pp. 19-20. 

* V. Fletcher, H. F., Milton's Semitic Studies, and Milton's Rabbinical 
Readings, 

xxi 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

inconsistent either with its form or spirit. It is neither 
categorical nor exclusive. There was in the 1,500 years 
during which the Midrash was being built up no epoch 
in the history of Israel — a history, alas, so rich in fateful 
changes— in which Midrashic debate would have been 
closed, so that Israel's philosophical activity should be 
ready to agree to be muzzled. This people was spiritually 
on the move even at a time when politically an extreme 
conservative attitude was to be expected. The Temple 
was rebuilt, a hierarchy of royal priests was installed, and 
the social order was stabilised. All this militated against 
ideological changes. And yet during this epoch when 
the nation was settling down, the urge for 'Quest' (Derash)^ 
for the search into the depth of truth was going on with 
a force which we do not expect to meet in times of political 
tranquillity. 

This urge to bring the formal truth into line with the 
organic truth, to fill the written law — where the necessity 
arose — with the contents of tradition and aspiration, out 
of which the Midrash came into being, was never tamed 
in the course of the next fifteen centuries of Midrashic 
history. The 'Quest' has gone on and on unabated in 
its spirit of freedom. The hammer which awakens the 
slumbering sparks in the rocks (Sanhedrin 346) was never 
used in nailing down the lid on the coffin of spiritual 
freedom. 

THE SONCINO TRANSLATION OF THE MIDRASH 

To render more accessible this heritage from which 
humanity has drawn much that is best in its religion, 
social life, and ethics is the chief aim of this translation, 
which has been designed on a scale hitherto unattempted 
in any language. The Editors and Translators alike have 
executed their work judiciously and conscientiously, 
making every possible effort to present the work in a 
simple, lucid, literary style whilst conforming as much 
as possible to the original in matter and sequence, and 
providing footnotes wherever necessary to remove surface 

xxii 



FOREWORD 

difficulties. The Publishers, too, have contributed much 
by presenting the work in a form which makes the reading 
pleasant and easy. 

The appeal made is not only to the student but also 
to the general reader ' who cares for some of these things ', 
and is unacquainted with Jewish and Rabbinic thought. 
The first will have a new guide to the original which will 
help him over many difficulties and enable him more 
easily to discover the greatness lying concealed in apparent 
littleness, and the unity of outlook underlying differences 
as well as agreement, Eastern imagery as well as Western 
fact. The latter (the general reader) will have thrown open 
to him a vast treasure-house into which have been gathered 
the faith, the ideals, the hopes and aspirations of the 
people of Israel which enabled them to overcome persecu- 
tions and temptations greater than any that have confronted 
other peoples. 

The era over which the work of the Midrash extends 
seems far distant and the methods of expressing thoughts, 
registering fears, hopes, and aspirations have greatly 
changed, but this translation comes at a time when the 
achievements of that era can provide a great sustaining 
and stimulating force to this generation and the generations 
that are to come. 

I. Epstein. 

Jews' College, London. 
Tebeth 8, 5<$99- 
December 30, 1938. 



xxm 



MIDRASH KABBAH 

that developed, as we shall see, in the course of the 
Talmudic period and which eventually led Midrash to 
become an independent branch of Rabbinic literature; 
and during the whole of the post-scriptural and pre- 
talmudic period the teaching both of Halachah and 
Haggadah was conducted in Midrash-form. 

Midrash, as one of the literary forms in which the 
Jewish creative genius in the realms in Haggadah expressed 
itself, left its deep impress on the Bible itself. In one of 
its functions as a collection of contributions to the history 
of Israel, Midrashic elements were assimilated to the 
Hebrew Scriptures. We find in Chronicles passages 
which are Midrashic glosses, supplementing in many 
details the narratives in the Book of Kings. 1 There is 
also a Midrash to the Book of Kings mentioned in 
ii Chronicles xxiv, 27, whilst reference to the Midrash 
of Iddo the Prophet is made in 11 Chronicles xin, zz. 
We may thus suppose that we have in Chronicles the 
first elements of Haggadic Midrash handed down in 
writing in their original form. After the completion of 
the Hebrew Scriptures, Midrashic creation in Haggadah 
obtained a dominating position in the spiritual life of 
Jewry. For a long period it was the vehicle for Jewish 
ideas, thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. Among the 
oldest Haggadic Midrashim is undoubtedly The Haggadah 
recited on Passover evening, which according to one 
authority 2 was compiled between the second half of the 
third century and the first half of the second century 

B.C.E. 

MIDRASH AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HALACHAH 

A specimen of an early Halachic Midrashic exposition 
of the Torah emanating according to competent authorities 3 

1 On the Midrashic character of Chronicles v Elmslie, W. A. L , 
Introduction to Chronicles, Cambridge Bible. 

2 Finkelstein, L., The Oldest Midrash, The Harvard Theological 
Review, 1938, pp. 291 fT. 

8 V. Herford, R. T., Talmud and Apocrypha, p. 48. 

xii 



FOREWORD 

from the Soferic school is preserved in the Mishnah 
Sotah, vrr, 2. It expounds Deut. xx, 3 : ' The priest anointed 
for battle . . . shall say unto them . • . against your 
enemies,' but not against your brethren, not Judah against 
Simeon nor Simeon against Benjamin, so that if you fall 
into their hand they shall have mercy upon you, as it is 
said, And the men which have been expressed by name 
rose up, and took the captives, and with their spoil clothed 
all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod 
them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, 
and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought 
them to Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto their brethren; 
then they returned to Samaria (11 Chron. xxvin, 15). 

Here we have one of the earliest typical examples of a 
Midrashic exposition of the Torah. The interpretation 
seems to adapt the law of the Torah to a new situation 
which had not been provided for in the text. There is no 
distinction in the original text of the Torah between 
'enemy' and 'enemy'. Strictly speaking, the word 'enemy' 
denotes any foe with whom one goes to battle. In the 
exposition cited a distinction is made, owing to the fact 
that a sort of ' Red Cross service ' for the sick and wounded 
seems to have been created, the scope of which, however, 
was restricted to wars among Jews themselves. This new 
situation involved a modification of the law at least in 
certain of its regulations * in respect of such civil wars. 
The Midrash gives apparently the whole process of 
reasoning which led to such a modification, and thereby 
holds open the way for further development, any funda- 
mental change in the methods of warfare being bound 
to react on the laws concerned. Should 'frightfulness', 
for example, be given up by other peoples too, should 
they also exercise mercy on their prisoners and wounded 
enemies, then the Law would be generally modified and 
the introduction of a certain measure of 'conscript' 
service would be permissible. 

1 Particularly the prohibition of conscription implied in Deut. xx, 8 : 
What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return 
unto his house, 

xiii 



MIDRASH AND MISHNAH 

This Halachic Midrash exemplifies more clearly than 
any Haggadic Midrash could do the formal and material 
differences of Midrash and Mishnah. As to the form, 
the Mishnah teaches the Halachah without reference 
to any Scriptural text. Evidently the Mishnah represented 
a progress in the method of teaching. While Midrash 
was tied to the texts of the respective Scriptures, the 
Tannaim were able through the Mishnah-form to put 
at will on the order of the day such subjects as they desired. 
The need for methodical regrouping could, however, 
have been satisfied without abandoning the Midrash- 
form and all its implications. The Scriptural text could 
still have remained the basis of the 'expositions' in a 
Midrash whose contents needed only to be regrouped 
according to subjects. This method, which would have 
been a kind of re-editing of Midrashic expositions, was 
not resorted to. We may assume that there were other 
reasons apart from pedagogical, for introducing Mishnah 
as a rival of Midrash. The final victory of the Mishnah- 
form with its logical sequence, the Halachic Gemara, 
bore witness to the determination of the learned of Israel 
to build up an unalterable system of directives. There 
was now no question any longer of a bridge between past 
and present. Mishnah and Gemara were meant to be 
a fortress able to offer resistance to any enemy possessing 
even the most dangerous weapons, from the Sadduceans 
down to the Karaites, their latter-day spiritual descendants. 

HALACHAH AND HAGGADAH 

We do not know when the words Halachah and Haggadah 
were first introduced. 1 But we would probably not be 
mistaken if we suppose that the time of their first divorce 
coincides with the introduction of the Mishnah-form. 

The emergence of two distinct terms need not necessarily 
have meant a rift or rivalry between the respective 

1 V. Herford, op cit. t p. 50. 

XIV 



FOREWORD 

disciplines these terms represented. The fact that Midrashic 
exposition in the Soferic and pre-Talmudic period found 
no difficulty in following the Scriptures verse by verse 
regardless of whether their character was Halachic or 
Haggadic proves that in all respects harmony and equality 
between Halachic and Haggadic exposition reigned. The 
teachers were the same, and the form of teaching was the 
same. When the same person was building up a system 
of which Halachah and Haggadah were the component 
parts, the full harmony of the system was obviously safe- 
guarded. But even if different persons happened to 
expound separately verses of Halachic and Haggadic 
character, they had — if ever such a necessity arose — to 
co-ordinate their expositions, in view of the fact that they 
all started from the same point, from Scriptural texts, 
from the Law of Moses. Under these conditions Halachah, 
representing the religious rules of practical life, and 
Haggadah, embodying the philosophy of the generation, 
existed side by side in complete unity. 

FREEDOM OF SPIRIT IN THE MTDRASH 

The sharp distinction which we find later between the 
significance of the two terms Halachah and Haggadah 
was a result of Talmudic development. The personal 
unity came to an end. There were teachers of the Haggadah 
(rabbanan di-Aggadeta), who presumably restricted their 
activity to Midrashic exposition of exclusively Haggadic 
character; while Mishnah supplemented by Gemara took 
more and more the form of categorical pronouncements 
on the religious law, and the discussion and applica- 
tion of its details. The characteristic Mishnaic form was 
the formulation of a decision which closed a debate. In 
many cases the Gemara reopens the debate, but only in 
order to close it again as categorically as the Mishnah did, 
though often on a different plane, embodying adaptations 
which the process of time had rendered necessary. These 
adaptations were adopted only after prolonged arguments 
between conflicting schools representing in many cases 

xv b 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

the forces of cautious conservatism on the one hand, and 
impatient progress on the other. More often the decision 
lagged behind the times, change being barred by definitive 
Mishnaic law and precedent. The Haggadah, however, 
in so far as it did not serve only to justify an a posteriori 
Talmudic decision already fixed, and as such unalterable, 
retained, especially in the Midrashim, its old freedom 
and its full potentialities. It, too, was governed in its 
interpretation of the Bible by certain norms of exposition 
which served as a check against the riot of untrammelled 
imagination. But whereas the Halachah was restricted to 
seven rules which even when expanded by Rabbi Ishmael 
(c. 90-130 c.E.) became no more than thirteen, the 
Haggadah enjoyed the greater latitude allowed by the 
thirty-two rules for Haggadic interpretation formulated 
by his contemporary R. Jose ha-Gelili (the Galilean). 
As ever before, the Haggadic Midrash continued to 
express the ideas, aspirations, hopes, fears, and collective 
thoughts of the people of Israel in successive generations. 
Many of the thoughts in the Haggadic Midrash were due 
to poetic inspiration, and these were often ahead of their 
times. In this sense they were prophetic, and in respect 
of function they continued the prophetic tradition, though 
formally and chronologically they were the direct 
descendants of the Scriptures, children of their verses, 
souls of their soul. 



PERIOD OF MIDRASHIC CREATIVE ACTIVITY 

The abandonment by the Halachah of the Midrash-form 
gave rise to the production of Haggadic writings which 
henceforth became synonymous with Midrashim. Simeon 
b. Pazzi in the first half of the third century was known 
as an editor of Haggadah (Mesadder Aggadeta) 1 ; and 
R. Johanan is more explicit still in regard to the existence 
of Haggadic compilations when he declares, 'A covenant 
has been effected : whoever learns Haggadah from a 

1 Ber. 10a. V., however, Strack, op, cit. t p. 14. 

xvi 



FOREWORD 

book will not easily forget it.' 1 The opinions recorded 
against the writing down of Haggadic creation are only 
further proofs of the fact that there were others who did 
put these Haggadoth, i.e. Midrashim, into writing. 

The most flourishing period of Haggadic activity was 
in Palestine in the third and fourth centuries, when the 
Academies were on the decline and spiritual life in Palestine 
found its only refuge in the Synagogue in which the Torah 
was taught and sermons delivered. The teacher and 
preacher often took the same floor and a probably un- 
intentional competition developed between them which 
often worked out to the disadvantage of the teacher. 
The popularity of the exposition of the Holy Writ, with 
the help of legend, parable, story, saw, and maxim, was 
ever growing. The masses of the people were drawn to 
the sermons which were full of such expositions and 
usually delivered on Sabbath and holy days. Hieronymus, 
who lived in Palestine, reports as an eye witness (about 420) 
that Jews would call one to another, 'Let us go and listen 
to this or that preacher who possesses a wonderful talent/ 2 



LATER MIDRASHIC COMPILATIONS 

Some of the Midrashic creations of the Talmudic 
epoch found their way into the Talmud. This happened 
mostly when Haggadic motives of one kind or another 
entered into the course of some Halachic discussion. 
This was often the case; and therefore the Mishnah, 
Tosefta, and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds 
are rich in Haggadic material. With the close of the 
Talmudic period creative Haggadic (and therefore 
Midrashic) activity came to an end. In the post-Amoraic 
and Geonic period the Midrashic activity was restricted 
to the field of collecting and revising the transmitted 
Midrashic material. The Karaite insurrection in the 

1 J. Ber. v, 1. 

a V. Dubnow, S. M., Weltgeschichte des judischen Volkes, vol. in, 
p. 381. 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

eighth century was favourable neither to Halachic nor 
to Haggadic activity : yet as a medium of literary expression 
the Midrash did not fall into disuse even after the Talmud 
had long been completed, and Midrashim were compiled 
down to the eleventh century. 

Midrashic creation and compilation extend, as we have 
seen, in an unbroken line from the days of Ezra to the 
eleventh century. In the later part of this period the only 
kind of Midrash produced was the Haggadic. The 
Midrashim compiled concurrently with or just after the 
process of the creation of the Talmud were Midrashim 
in every sense of the word, and as a spiritual factor — 
owing to their Haggadistic contents — became more and 
more separated from the Halachah which dwelt exclusively 
in the Talmud. 

STYLE AND CHARACTERISTICS 

In all the Midrashic compilations either of contemporary 
creation or as the result of purely 'editorial* work, no 
attempt was made to reproduce in full dress the contents 
of the sermons of the great masters of the Haggadah. 
They merely record the central ideas from which flowed 
the whole process of thought of the preachers and round 
which they wove their orations and picturesque homilies. 
This accounts for their style being laconic, pithy, and 
terse, at times to the point of obscurity. It is well to 
remember this before criticising the Midrash for its 
apparent unintelligibility in places, as is sometimes done. 
It should also be borne in mind that some Midrashic 
paragraphs owe their preservation to the very obscurity 
of their meaning. This meaning might have consisted 
in political allusions, and contemporaries certainly possessed 
the key to many of the passages which to us appear a 
confusing mass of words. And these same Midrashim, 
if ' decoded ' by the research and investigation of savants, 
may be made to throw new light on the life, religion, and 
history of a past age. Thus more material may be added 
to the historical facts embedded in the traditional lore in 

xviii 



FOREWORD 

the Midrash, which have already proved to be invaluable 
data for the knowledge of the history of Israel. 

Another criticism levelled against the Midrash is the 
simplicity exhibited in its construction and modes of 
expression. In truth, simple forms are proofs of inner 
strength, based upon the harmony of ideas and facts. 
Complicated forms are on the contrary signs of decline, 
as they betray difficulties in the endeavour to reconcile 
ideas with facts, formal truths with organic truth, aspira- 
tions with possibilities of attainment. 

POPULARITY OF THE MIDRASH 

The purely Haggadic character of the Midrash has 
been the cause of its immense popularity — a popularity 
which the passage of years has only served to confirm 
and strengthen. As ever in the past the Midrash retains 
to-day for the religious Jew the significance attached to 
it in the classical sentence : ' If thou wishest to know Him 
at whose command the world came into existence, learn 
Haggadah, for thereby shalt thou know the Holy One, 
blessed be He, and cling to His ways/ 1 Its sweet and 
potent influences have, moreover, been all-pervasive. Not 
only has it ever served as an inexhaustible source of 
inspiration to teacher and preacher, but it has also enriched 
the literature and liturgy of the Jew and his very life. 
Charged with messages, infinite in variety, which age 
cannot wither nor custom stale, the Midrash has ever 
proved an unfailing spring with the power to refreshen 
and renew, sustain and strengthen the Jew athirst for 
the word of the Living God. Whether in joy or sorrow, 
storm or sunshine, it never failed to yield the right message 
of moral sustenance and help. And to the present day, 
the learned Jewish layman will turn to the Midrash for 
solace and comfort from the turmoil and strife of work-a-day 
life, and the assiduous student of the law finds in it a 
welcome and refreshing retreat from the rigorous discipline 
of the battlefield of the Halachah. 

1 Sifre to Deut. xi, 22. 

xix 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

ITS UNIVERSAL INFLUENCE 

The influence of Jewish Midrashic activity was not 
restricted to Jews. Its sway extended far and wide, and 
much of the religious, moral, and ethical thought and 
teaching alike of Christianity and Islam was fashioned 
by the ideas to which the Midrash gave birth and which 
they adopted either in toto, or after reshaping them for 
their own ends. Apart from the New Testament, which 
so abounds with Midrashic elements that it has been not 
unjustly termed 'a masterpiece of the Haggadah', 1 the 
Church Fathers fully understood the importance of the 
Midrashic method employed with telling effect by con- 
temporary Jewish preachers in the service of the Jewish 
spirit, and resolved to resort to the same spiritual weapon 
in order to place the dogmatic system of the Church on a 
firm basis. Eusebius (d. 350) already praises Midrashic 
preachers, the 'Deuterotai' (as distinguished from the 
Halachic teachers, the ' Sopkoi'), as 'men armed with 
extraordinary reasoning powers able to penetrate into 
the deepest meaning of the Holy Writ'. Ephraem 
Syrus, Chrysostom the 'golden mouthed', Augustine 
introduced Midrash in their apologetic works. Hieronymus 
especially drew extensively upon Midrashic sources, and 
thanks to his association with Palestinian Amoraim has 
been able to hand down to us a number of most daring 
Midrashic expositions. 2 

The considerable indebtedness of Mahommed to the 
Midrash for the legendary and other material which he 
incorporated in the Koran has already been proved over 
a century ago by Abraham Geiger in his work, Was hat 
Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen ? a Midrash 
also played its part in leading the thought of the Middle 
Ages into new channels and preparing the way for what 
was of permanent value in the Renaissance. Guillaume 
D'Auvergne (first half of the thirteenth century), the 

1 Renan, E., Histoire du Peuple d' Israel (1893), v, p, 321 . 

2 V. Dubnow, S. M., op. cit. y p. 3586. 

3 Published first at Bonn 1833. 

XX 



FOREWORD 

first representative of the new spirit in scholasticism, 
shows in his De Universo marked traces of Midrashic 
influence, 1 Nicholas de Lyra, the most learned Christian 
Hebraist of the fourteenth century, whose influence on 
Luther is expressed in the well-known tag: Si Lyra non 
lyrasset Lutherus non saltasset, 2 made much use of Midrashic 
material in his Postillae Perpetuae? And during the post- 
Reformation period, while Pascal in France was pressing 
Midrashic ideas into the service of Jansenism in his 
theological writings, 4 Milton in Puritan England was 
constructing his great epic Paradise Lost and its sequel 
Paradise Regained out of material supplied to him from 
Midrashic sources. 5 



ITS UNBROKEN CONTINUITY 

We have seen the evidence of the centuries-long 
Midrashic activity, and in the Midrash Rabbah we have 
before us a monumental collection of the written testimony 
to this activity. It exhibits an unbroken row of pearls 
all of the same high quality, the first of which was strung 
by the early Soferim and the last perhaps by an anonymous 
scribe 1,500 years later. If ever a work was created 
by the collective spirit of a people, such a work is the 
Midrash. If ever the spirit of a people could claim to 
possess the highest degree of consistency, then the spirit 
which created the Midrash would entitle the Jews to 
make that claim. 

At the same time the Midrash, in virtue of the amazing 
consistency of its creation, is also a most valuable proof 
of the progressive spirit of the Jewish people. It is a 
fundamental characteristic of Midrash that it keeps its 
gates open. It never closes a debate — that would be 

1 V, Guttmann, J., R.E.J. y xvm, pp. 245 ff. 

3 If Lyra had not played the lyre (the tune), Luther would not have 
danced. 

3 V. Neumann, J., R.E.J., xxvi, pp. 177 ff. 

4 V, Seidmann, E., Pascal und das Alte Testament^ pp. 19-20, 

8 V. Fletcher, H. F., Milton's Semitic Studies, and Milton's Rabbinical 
Readings. 

xxi 



MIDRASH RABBAH 

inconsistent either with its form or spirit. It is neither 
categorical nor exclusive. There was in the 1,500 years 
during which the Midrash was being built up no epoch 
in the history of Israel— a history, alas, so rich in fateful 
changes — in which Midrashic debate would have been 
closed, so that Israel's philosophical activity should be 
ready to agree to be muzzled. This people was spiritually 
on the move even at a time when politically an extreme 
conservative attitude was to be expected. The Temple 
was rebuilt, a hierarchy of royal priests was installed, and 
the social order was stabilised. All this militated against 
ideological changes. And yet during this epoch when 
the nation was settling down, the urge for 'Quest' (Derash), 
for the search into the depth of truth was going on with 
a force which we do not expect to meet in times of political 
tranquillity. 

This urge to bring the formal truth into line with the 
organic truth, to fill the written law — where the necessity 
arose — with the contents of tradition and aspiration, out 
of which the Midrash came into being, was never tamed 
in the course of the next fifteen centuries of Midrashic 
history. The 'Quest' has gone on and on unabated in 
its spirit of freedom. The hammer which awakens the 
slumbering sparks in the rocks (Sanhedrin 34^) was never 
used in nailing down the lid on the coffin of spiritual 
freedom. 



THE SONCINO TRANSLATION OF THE MIDRASH 

To render more accessible this heritage from which 
humanity has drawn much that is best in its religion, 
social life, and ethics is the chief aim of this translation, 
which has been designed on a scale hitherto unattempted 
in any language. The Editors and Translators alike have 
executed their work judiciously and conscientiously, 
making every possible effort to present the work in a 
simple, lucid, literary style whilst conforming as much 
as possible to the original in matter and sequence, and 
providing footnotes wherever necessary to remove surface 

xxii 



FOREWORD 



difficulties. The Publishers, too, have contributed much 
by presenting the work in a form which makes the reading 
pleasant and easy. 

The appeal made is not only to the student but also 
to the general reader 'who cares for some of these things*, 
and is unacquainted with Jewish and Rabbinic thought. 
The first will have a new guide to the original which will 
help him over many difficulties and enable him more 
easily to discover the greatness lying concealed in apparent 
littleness, and the unity of outlook underlying differences 
as well as agreement, Eastern imagery as well as Western 
fact. The latter (the general reader) will have thrown open 
to him a vast treasure-house into which have been gathered 
the faith, the ideals, the hopes and aspirations of the 
people of Israel which enabled them to overcome persecu- 
tions and temptations greater than any that have confronted 
other peoples. 

The era over which the work of the Midrash extends 
seems far distant and the methods of expressing thoughts, 
registering fears, hopes, and aspirations have greatly 
changed, but this translation comes at a time when the 
achievements of that era can provide a great sustaining 
and stimulating force to this generation and the generations 

that are to come. 

I. Epstein. 



Jews' College, London. 
Tebeth 8, 5699. 
December 30, 1938- 



XXlll 



EDITORIAL PREFACE 

This first complete and unabridged English translation 
of the Midrash Rabbah, one of the monumental pro- 
ductions of Rabbinic literature, owes its origin to the enter- 
prise and idealism of Mr. J. Davidson, the Governing 
Director of the Soncino Press. The magnitude of the 
undertaking may be judged from the fact that the Midrash 
Rabbah is a collection of ten separate works, and this is 
the first time that a complete rendering has been made of 
all of them into any foreign language. 

It has been the aim of the Editors and Translators to 
produce a translation which shall on the one hand be 
absolutely faithful and accurate, and on the other hand as 
agreeable to read as the original itself. We hope that it 
will be found literary enough to satisfy the aesthetic taste, 
and at the same time literal enough to be of service to those 
who require help in unravelling the original. 

Notes have been added chiefly for the purpose of explain- 
ing difficulties and allusions in the text. They have been 
kept as brief as possible, and all elaborate discussion of 
scholastic points has been avoided. Each component work 
of the Midrash Rabbah is prefaced with an Introduction 
giving its date and place of origin as far as these can be 
ascertained, and pointing out its distinguishing features 
and characteristics. 

Full use has naturally been made of the standard com- 
mentaries on the Midrash — the Matnoth Kehunah, the 
works of Einhorn and Jaffe, the glosses of Luzzatto and 
Strashun, etc. Where these differ, one opinion has usually 
been selected, but alternative renderings are mentioned in 
the notes where they seem to offer points of special interest. 
The Talmudical dictionaries of Levy and Jastrow have of 
course been of great help, especially in the elucidation of 
the foreign — mostly Greek words, of which so many occur 
in the Midrash Rabbah. 

In spite, however, of the labours of all these scholars, and 
in spite of the fact that the Midrashic exposition of the 
Rabbis, being meant for the general public, had by its 

XXV 



EDITORIAL PREFACE 

very nature to be easily intelligible, there remain in the 
Midrash Rabbah a number of passages which for one reason 
or another have become involved in obscurity, and the 
meaning of which is more or less a matter of conjecture. 
This is especially the case with passages containing some 
loan word or words from a foreign language which a 
copyist, ignorant of that language, has transformed almost 
out of recognition. In such cases the Editors have usually 
given the translation which appeared to them most probable, 
without entering into lengthy explanations. 

In conclusion we wish to express our warmest thanks to 
our colleagues who have co-operated so loyally with us, and 
to associate with them the name of Mr. A. M. Rueff, of the 
Soncino Press, who has given most valuable and devoted 
help in checking references and assuring the accuracy of 
the work in many other ways. 

H, Freedman. 

M. Simon. 



XXV1 



INTRODUCTION 

Bereshith Rabbah, to give the present work its Hebrew 
title, was also known under the names of Bereshith derabbi 
Osha'yah (Hosha'yah), Bereshith Rabbah derabbi Oshaya 
^Hoshayiah), Bereshith derabbi Hosha'yah rabba, and 
Baraitha derabbi Oshaya. It is one of the oldest Midrashim, 
its redaction dating not much later than the close of the 
Jerusalem Talmud, as will be seen further on. 

In form it differs from the other Rabbah Midrashim, in that 
it is a running commentary on Genesis, verse by verse, and 
often even word by word, whereas the others are homiletic 
Midrashim and do not comment on each verse separately. 
The author of Halachoth Gedoloth ranged it not with the 
other Rabbah literature but with the Tannaitic Midrashim, 
such as the Sifra, Sifre and Mekilta, on the other books of 
the Pentateuch. These latter Tannaitic Midrashim being 
concerned mainly with Halachah, it was natural that they 
omitted Genesis, which contains very little Halachic matter, 
and thus the present work might be considered as supple- 
mentary to them. Nevertheless it differs from the Tannaitic 
Midrashim which are fragmentary in character, chiefly in 
that the parashiyyoth (sections, chapters) of Genesis Rabbah 
begin with proems, such as always characterise the 
beginnings of homilies collected in the homiletic Midrashim. 
Each chapter of the work is headed by the verse which is 
to be explained, and prefaced by a number of comments 
on a different verse of the Bible, the last of which always 
leads back directly to the verse of Genesis under discussion. 
Most of these introductory passages are anonymous, and 
may be partly ascribed to the author of Genesis Rabbah. 
Thus it is a combination of the running commentary with 
the homily complete in itself. 

The parashiyyoth are numbered in the MSS. and the 
printed edd. The total number varies from 97 to 101. 
Nearly all MSS. and all edd. count 96 chapters up to the 
exposition on Gen. xlvii, 28 (beginning of Vayechi). The 
principle of division was based on the ' closed ' and ' open ' 
parashiyyoth of the Biblical text itself, but not on the 

xxvii 



INTRODUCTION 

present division of the Pentateuch into pericopes or weekly 
portions, whereby the whole Pentateuch is divided so that 
its public reading may be completed in one year. Though 
in the present translation, as also in the edd., the work is 
divided according to the pericopes for the sake of conven- 
ience, the pericopes of the one-year cycle are not marked 
at all in the best MSS., nor in the editio princeps. 

The material consists of homiletic and ethical interpreta- 
tions of the text. The Rabbis were not concerned to 
elucidate the meaning of the Biblical text according to the 
strictly scientific canons of scholarship, but rather to find 
in it teachings and messages needed by the problems which 
they encountered in their own days. Thus the text was seen 
through the spectacles of contemporary thought. The 
Creation story, for example, was utilised as a means of 
combating heretical views on the dual nature of the God- 
head, while in particular the story of Jacob and Esau, with 
all its drama and moving episodes, became a reflex of the 
struggle between Judea and Rome, Esau symbolising the 
military might of the Roman Empire and its ruthless 
conquest of the peoples. 

Ancient tradition ascribed the authorship of the work to 
R. Hoshaya, a Palestinian scholar belonging to the first 
generation of Amoraim who flourished in the third century 
of the current era. This tradition may mean that he was 
responsible for the work in its original form, but un- 
doubtedly much of the present work was added later and 
swelled its size, and it is possible indeed that it was then 
given the name 'Bereshith Rabbah 1 (the great Bereshith) 
to distinguish it from the original work, which was naturally 
of much smaller compass. It has been observed that the 
material on the first pericope, Bereshith, has been compiled 
on a far more lavish scale than that on the other eleven 
pericopes ; indeed, its twenty-nine chapters constitute more 
than a quarter of the whole. This has led to the theory that 
it may have formed part of a larger Haggadic work on 
Genesis which was either lost or remained incomplete. 
This larger work may have been called Bereshith Rabbah 
to distinguish it from the present smaller work preserved 

xxviii 



INTRODUCTION 

in the other eleven perlcopes, but subsequently the name 
was applied not only to the first pericope but to the whole. 
The first scholar mentioned in this work in the edd. is 
R. Hoshayah Rabbah, and this has given rise to yet another 
theory that the name Bereshith Rabbah is a contraction of 
Bereshith derabbi Hoshayah Rabbah (the Bereshith of 
Rabbi Hoshayah the Great). This theory, however, is 
negatived by the fact that in the best MSS., as in the present 
edition, he is simply called R. Hoshayah, not R. Hoshayah 
Rabbah. But whatever its origin, the designation 'Rabbah/ 
which originally belonged to Genesis alone, was sub- 
sequently applied to the other Midrashic works on the 
books of the Pentateuch, as well as to the five ' Megilloth ' 
('Scrolls/ viz., Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ruth 
and Lamentations), and thus ten distinct works were 
eventually included under the single title Midrash Rabbah. 

Genesis Rabbah is a Palestinian work, and as has been 
stated above, its editing took place some time after the 
redaction of the Jerusalem Talmud. Zunz holds that it was 
collected and edited in the sixth century c.e. But even then 
the text was still subject to accretions, and from 
Vayyishlach we find extensive passages bearing marks of 
the later Haggadah. In Vayyigash the commentary is no 
longer verse by verse, while much of Vayechi was probably 
drawn from the Tanhuma homilies. Attention to such 
passages has been drawn in the notes. 

The present translation is based on Theodor's critical 
edition, which in turn is based on the Codex Add. 27169 of 
the British Museum. Where this differs considerably from 
the edd., as it often does, attention has been drawn to the 
fact. In the cur. edd. many passages are also found which 
are absent from the critical edition ; these have been added 
either in the notes or in the text, within brackets. 

H. Freedman. 



XXIX 



[I. I 

GENESIS 
Chapter I 

BERESHITH 

i. R. Oshaya commenced [his exposition thus]: Then 
I was by Him, as a nursling (amon) ; and I was daily all 
delight (Prov. viii, 30). 'Amon' means tutor; 'amon' means 
covered; 'amon' means hidden 1 ; and some say, 'amon' 
means great. 'Amon' is a tutor, as you read, As an omen 
{nursing-father) carrieth the sacking child (Num. xi, 12). 
'Amon' means covered, as in the verse, Ha'emunim (they 
that were clad — i.e. covered) in scarlet (Lam. iv, 5). 'Amon' 
means hidden, as in the verse, And he concealed (omen) 2 
Hadassah (Est. n, 7). 'Amon' means great, as in the 
verse, Art thou better than No-amon (Nah. in, 8)? which 
is rendered, Art thou better than Alexandria the Great, 
that is situate among the rivers? 3 Another interpretation: 
'amon' is a workman (uman). The Torah declares: 'I was 
the working tool of the Holy One, blessed be He.' In 
human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he 
builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an 
architect. The architect moreover does not build it out 
of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how 
to arrange the chambers and the wicket doors. Thus God 
consulted the Torah and created the world, while the Torah 
declares, In the beginning God created (i, i), 
beginning referring to the Torah, as in the verse, The 
Lord made me as the beginning of His way (Prov. viii, 22). 



4 



1 The speaker is the Torah (Wisdom) personified, referring to the pre- 
Creation era. The Torah was with God as with a tutor, reared, as it were, 
by the Almighty (this is similar to E.V.); it was also covered up 
and hidden. This may mean that the laws of the Torah were unknown 
until the Revelation at Sinai, while some of them remained 'hidden' 
even then, i.e. their reasons are not known. 2 E.V. 'brought up'. The 
Midrash understands it to mean that Mordecai concealed her from the 
public gaze. 3 Translation of the second half of the verse. 
4 Here too the speaker is the Torah. Thus the verse is translated: By 
means of the 'beginning', sc. the Torah, God created, etc. 



I. 5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

5. 1 R. Huna quoted in Bar Kappara's name: Let the lying 
lips be dumb — te'alamnah (Ps. xxxi, 19): this means, Let 
them be bound, made dumb, and silenced. 'Let them be 
bound,' as in the verse, For, behold, we were binding sheaves 
— me'allemim allumim (Gen. xxxvii, 7); 'Let them be 
made dumb/ as you read, Or who made a man dumb — 
illem (Ex. iv, 11); while 'Let them be silenced' is its literal 
meaning. Which speak 'athak (E.V. 'arrogantly') against 
the righteous (Ps. loc. cit.), meaning, [which speak] against 
[the will of] the Righteous One, who is the Life of all 
worlds, on matters which He has withheld (he'etik) from 
His creatures. 2 With pride (ib.) ! in order to boast and say, 
'I discourse on the Creation narrative!' And contempt (ib.): 
to think that he contemns My Glory! For R. Jose b. 
R. IJanina said: Whoever elevates himself at the cost of 
his fellow man's degradation has no share in the World 
to Come. How much the more then [when it is done at 
the expense of] the glory of God! And what is written 
after it ? Oh how abundant is Thy goodness, which Thou hast 
laid up for them that fear Thee (ib. 20). Said Rab: Let him 3 
have nought of Thine abundant goodness. 4 In human 
practice, when an earthly monarch builds a palace on a 
site of sewers, dunghills, and garbage, if one says, ' This 
palace is built on a site of sewers, dunghills, and garbage/ 
does he not discredit it? Thus, whoever comes to say 
that this world was created out of tohu and bohu & and 
darkness, does he not indeed impair [God's glory] ! R. Huna 
said in Bar Kappara's name : If the matter were not written, 
it would be impossible to say it, viz., God created 

1 The Midrash here is in some disorder. The passages that follow are 

sections 5 and 6 in cur. edd., but are placed here in Th.'s ed. 

8 Sc. the mysteries of Creation, which were regarded as a subject of 

esoteric teaching fit for the very select few only. 

8 Who irreverently disseminates esoteric teaching, and so is not of 

*them that fear Thee*. 

4 Lit. 'nought in "Oh how abundant is Thy goodness** .' 

5 E.V. (in Gen. 1, 2) 'unformed and void'. Here, however, they are 
regarded, together with darkness, as forms of matter which according to 
some who deny creatio ex nihilo was God's raw material in the creation 
of the world. The object of, the Midrash here is to refute that view. 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. 5-6 

HEAVEN AND EARTH; out of what? Out of NOW THE 
EARTH WAS TOHU AND BOHU (i, Z). 1 

6. R. Judah b. Simon quoted: And He revealeth the 
deep and secret things — mesatratha (Dan. 11, 22). ' The deep 
things' are the Gehenna, as it is written, But he knoweth 
not that the shades are there; that in the depths of the 
nether world are her guests (Prov. ix, 18). 'And secret things' 
refers to the garden of Eden, as it is written, And for a 
refuge and for a covert (le-mistor), etc. (Isa. iv, 6). 2 Another 
interpretation : 'And He revealeth the deep things * refers to 
the deeds of the wicked, as it is written, Woe unto them 
that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord (ih. xxix, 
15). He knoweth what is in the darkness (Dan. loc. cit.): 
this too refers to the deeds of the wicked, as it is written, 
And their works are in the darkness (Isa. loc. cit.). And the 
light dwelleth with Him (Dan. loc. cit.) refers to the deeds 
of the righteous, as it is written, Light is sown for the 
righteous (Ps. xcvii, n). R. Abba of Serungayya 3 said: 
'And the light dwelleth with him'* alludes to the royal 
Messiah. R. Judah b. R. Simon said: From the commence- 
ment of the world's creation 'He revealeth the deep things, ' 
etc., 5 for it is written, In the beginning God 
created the heaven, but it is not explained how. 
Where then is it explained? Elsewhere: That stretcheth 
out the heavens as a curtain (Isa. XL, 22) ; And the 
earth, which is likewise not explained. Where is that 
explained ? Elsewhere : For He saith to the snow : Fall thou 
on the earth, etc. (Job xxxvn, 6). And God said: 
Let there be light (1, 3), and the manner of this, 
too, is not explained. Where is it explained? Elsewhere: 
Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment 
(Ps. civ, 2). 

1 God first created tohu and bohu, and out of these He created the world, 

But this is not to be taught publicly (Y.T.). 

* Covert is understood to mean the Garden of Eden. 

3 A place near Tiberias. 

4 With a small h t in view of his interpretation. 

5 He reveals to the prophets matters in connection with the Creation 
which were hidden and unknown heretofore; 'E.J. and Th. 



I. 7-2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

7. R. Isaac commenced with, The beginning of Thy word 
is truth ; and all Thy righteous ordinance endureth for ever 
(Ps. cxix, 160). Said R. Isaac: From the very commence- 
ment of the world's creation, ' The beginni?ig of Thy word 
is truth.' Thus, In the beginning God created 
[corroborates the statement,] But the Lord God is the true 
God(]ev. x, io). 1 Therefore 'And all Thy righteous ordinance 
endureth for ever (Ps. he. cit.). For in regard to every 
single decree which Thou dost promulgate concerning 
Thy creatures, they affirm the righteousness of Thy judg- 
ment and accept it with faith. And no person can dispute 
and maintain that two powers gave the Torah or two 
powers created the world. For 'And the Gods spake* is 
not written here, but, And God spake all these words 
(Ex. xx, i) 2 ; In the beginning the Gods created is not written 
here, but In the beginning God created. 3 

2. 4 R. Joshua of Siknin 6 quoted in R. Levi's name; He 
hath declared to His people the power of His works y in giving 
them the heritage of the nations (Ps. cxi, 6). Why did the 
Holy One, blessed be He, reveal to Israel what was created 
on the first day and on the second day, etc. ? So that the 
nations of the world might not taunt Israel and say to 
them: 'Surely ye are a nation of robbers: think of that!' 
But Israel can retort: 'And do ye not hold yours as spoil, 
for surely The Caphtorim, that came forth out of Caphtor, 
destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead (Deut. 11, 23) ! The 
world and the fullness thereof belong to God. When He 
wished, He gave it to you ; and when He wished, He took 

1 Rashi and ( EJ.: The opening statement of the Bible thus proclaims 
the truth that the Lord is God, and there is none beside Him, for it is 
He alone who created the world. Mah. Elohim (God) is His attribute 
as a God of justice, and the opening verse of the Bible, In the 
beginning ELOHIM created, is an assertion that He 
created the world on the basis of justice and truth. 

2 This is the verse which introduces Revelation. 

s The point is that though Elohim (God) is plural in form, the accom- 
panying verb is always in the singular. This passage is directed against 
the Gnostxcs; v. Graetz, History of the Jews (Eng. trans,) vol. 11 
pp. 377 seq. 
* Cf. p. a, n. 1. * North of Jotapata in Galilee. 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. 2-3 

it from you and gave it to us/ Hence it is written, 'In 
giving them the heritage of the nations, He hath declared 
to His people the power of His works': He declared the 
beginning to them, viz., In the beginning God 

CREATED, etc. 

3. R. Tanhuma commenced with: For Thou art great, 
and doest wondrous things, etc. (Ps. lxxxvi, 10). R. Tanhum 
b. R. Hiyya said: If a gourd has a hole even as small as 
the eye of a needle, all its air escapes; yet though man is 
formed with many cavities and orifices, his breath does 
not escape through them. Who achieved this? Thou God 
alone (ib.). 

When were the angels created? R. Johanan said: They 
were created on the second day, as it is written, Who 
layest the beams of Thine upper chambers in the waters 
(Ps. Civ, 3), followed by, Who makest the spirits Thine 
angels {ib. 4). 1 R. Hanina said: They were created on the 
fifth day, for it is written, And let fowl fly above the earth 
(Gen. 1, 20), 2 and it is written, And with twain he did fly 
(Isa. vi, 2). 3 R. Luliani b. Tabri 4 said in R. Isaac's name: 
W T hether we accept the view of R. Hanina or that of 
R. Johanan, all agree that none were created on the first 
day, lest you should say, Michael stretched [the world] 
in the south and Gabriel in the north, while the Holy 
One, blessed be He, measured it in the middle ; but I" am 
the Lord, that maketh all things ; that stretched forth the 
heavens alone; that spread abroad the earth by Myself — 
me-itti (ib. xliv, 24) : mi itti (who was with Me) is written : 
who was associated with Me in the creation of the world ? 
Ordinarily, a mortal king is honoured in his realm and the 
great men of the realm are honoured with him. Wherefore ? 
Because they bear the burden [of state] with him. 

1 The former verse is interpreted as a poetic description of the dividing 
of the upper from the nether waters, which took place on the second day 
(Gen. 1, 6-8); and on the same day He created the angels, as is shown 
by the latter verse. 2 This was on the fifth day. 

3 Thus angels too fall within the category of beings that fly, and were 
created on the same day as all flying creatures. 

4 I.e. Julianus b. Tiberius. 



I. 3~4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is not so, but 
He alone created His world, He alone is glorified in His 
universe. R. Tanhuma quoted: 'For Thou art great and 
doest wondrous things/ Wherefore? 1 Because ' Thou God 
art alone*: Thou alone didst create the world. Hence, 
In the beginning God created. 

4. In the beginning God created. Six things 
preceded the creation of the world; some of them were 
actually created, while the creation of the others was already 
contemplated. 2 The Torah and the Throne of Glory were 
created. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord made me 
as the beginning of His way, prior to His works of old (Frov. 
viii, 22). 3 The Throne of Glory, as it is written, Thy throne 
is established of old, etc. (Ps. xciii, 2). The creation of the 
Patriarchs was contemplated, for it is written, / saw your 
fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first season 
(Hos. ix, 10). 4 [The creation of] Israel was contemplated, 
as it is written, Remember Thy congregation, which Thou 
hast gotten aforetime (Ps. lxxiv, 2). [The creation of] the 
Temple was contemplated, for it is written, Thou throne 
of glory, on high from the beginning, the place of our sanctuary 
(Jer. xvii, 12). The name of Messiah was contemplated, 
for it is written, His name existeth ere the sun (Ps. lxxii, 17). 
R. Ahabah b. R. Ze'ira said : Repentance too, as it is written, 
Before the mountains were brought forth, etc. (ib. xc, 2), and 
from that very moment, Thou turnest man to contrition, and 
say est: Repent, ye children of men (ib. 3). I still do not know 
which was first, whether the Torah preceded the Throne 
of Glory or the Throne of Glory preceded the Torah. Said 
R. Abba b. Kahana: The Torah preceded the Throne of 
Glory, for it says, ' The Lord made me as the beginning 
of His way, ere His works of old,' which means, ere that 
whereof it is written, 'Thy throne is established of old/ 

1 I.e. wherein does His greatness lie} 

* And, generally speaking, contemplation and decision are identical and 
simultaneous with God. * The speaker is the Torah personified, and 
'works of old' means the Creation. 

* ' I saw' is probably interpreted ' I approve', i.e. I decided to create them. 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. 4-8 

R. Huna, reporting R. Jeremiah in the name of R. Samuel 
b. R. Isaac, said: The intention to create Israel preceded 
everything else. This may be illustrated thus: A king was 
married to a certain lady, and had no son by her. On one 
occasion the king was found going through the market- 
place and giving orders: 'Take this ink, inkwell, and pen 
for my son/ at which people remarked: 'He has no son: 
what does he want with ink and pen? Strange indeed!' 
Subsequently they concluded: 'The king is an astrologer, 
and has actually foreseen that he is destined to beget a 
son!' Thus, had not the Holy One, blessed be He, foreseen 
that after twenty-six generations 1 Israel would receive the 
Torah, He would not have written therein, Command the 
children of Israel! 2 

R. Banayah said: The world and the fullness thereof 
were created only for the sake of the Torah: The Lord 
for the sake of wisdom [i.e. the Torah] founded the earth 
(Prov. in, 19). R. Berekiah said: For the sake of Moses: 
And He saw the beginning [i.e. the Creation] 3 for Himself, 
for there a portion of a ruler [sc. Moses] was reserved (Deut. 
xxxiii, 21). 4 

R. Huna said in R. Mattenah's name : The world was 
created for the sake of three things: hallah y tithes, and 
first-fruits, as it is said, In the beginning (be- 
reshith) God created. Now reshith alludes to hallah, 
for it is written, Of the first (reshith) of your dough (Num. 
xv, 20); again, reshith alludes to tithes, for it is written, 
The first-fruits (reshith) of thy corn (Deut. xviii, 4) ; and 
finally, reshith alludes to first-fruits, for it is written, The 
choicest (reshith) first-fruits of thy land, etc. (Ex. xxni, 19). 5 

8. R. Menahem and R. Joshua b. Levi said in the name 
of R. Levi 6 : A builder requires six things: water, earth, 

1 Viz., 10 from Adam to Noah,' 10 from Noah to Abraham (Aboth v, 2), 
and then Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses, making 
twenty-six in all. 2 E.g.Num.xxvin,2. S E.V. ' And he chose a first part.' 
4 I.e. God created the world for the sake of Moses who was to be born 
in it. 6 Hence the verse is translated: For the sake of (the prepo- 

sition 1 can have that meaning) reshith God created heaven and earth. 
* Bacher is inclined to read: R. Joshua of Siknin in the name of R. Levi. 



I. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

timber, stones, canes, and Iron. And even if yon say, He is 
wealthy and does not need canes, 1 yet he surely requires 
a measuring rod, as it is written, And a measuring reed in 
his hand (Ezek. XL, 3). Thus the Torah preceded [the 
creation of the world] by these six things, 2 viz., kedem 
('the first'), me-az ('of old'), me-olam ('from everlasting'), 
me-rosh (' from the beginning '), and mi4ekadmin (' or ever '), 
which counts as two. 3 

9. A certain philosopher asked R. Gamaliel, saying to 
him: 'Your God was inde.ed a great artist, but surely He 
found good materials which assisted Him?' 4 'What are 
they/ said he to him? ' Tohu, bohu, darkness, water, wind 
(ruah), and the deep/ replied he. 'Woe to that man/ he 
exclaimed. 'The term "creation" is used by Scripture in 
connection with all of them/ Tohu and bohu : I make peace 
and create evil (Isa. xlv, j) 5 ; darkness: I form the light, 
and create darkness (ib.) ; water : Praise Him., ye heavens of 
heavens, and ye waters that are , above the heavens (Ps. 
cxlviii, 4) — wherefore ? For He commanded, and they were 
created (ib. 5) ; wind : For, lo, He thatformeth the mountains, 
and createth the wind (Amos IV, 13); the depths: When 
there were no depths, I was brought forth (Prov. VIII, 24).° 



1 The word probably means bamboos or reeds which were only used in 
poor houses. 

2 The idea is that six expressions of precedence are employed in reference 
to the Torah (Y.T. and 'E.J.). 

3 This is an allusion to Prov. vm, 22 f : The Lord made me (sc. the Torah) 
. . . the first (kedem) of His works of old (me-'az). I was set upfront ever- 
lasting (me-'olam), from the beginning (me-rosh), or ever (mi-ka$me 
= mi-likadmjn in Aramaic) the earth was. Kadme is plural in form. 

4 He believed that God had created the world, but maintained (in the 
form of a question) that He had used primeval matter, which was 
eternal. 

5 By tohu and bohu the philosopher meant primeval matter, without form. 
Thereupon R. Gamaliel quoted: I make shalom (that which is whole, 
i.e. what contains both matter and form) and evil, i.e. that which is 
defective, consisting of matter only without form. Thus that too was 
created. V. Husik, A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy, pp. XXIX f. 
Perhaps too this is an allusion to the view that matter is a source of 
evil. 

6 Since at one time there were no depths, God must have created them. 

8 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. IO 

io. In the beginning (be-reshith) God 
created. R. Jonah said in R. Levi's name: Why was 
the world created with a beth? 1 Just as the beth is closed 
at the sides but open in front, so you are not permitted 
to investigate what is above and what is below, what is 
before and what is behind. 2 Bar Kappara quoted: For ask 
now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day 
that God created man upon the earth (Deut. iv, 32) : you 
may speculate from the day that days were created, but 
you may not speculate on what was before that. And from 
one end of heaven unto the other (ib.) you may investigate, 
but you may not investigate what was before this. R. Judah 
b. Pazzi lectured on the Creation story, in accordance 
with this interpretation of Bar Kappara. 3 

Why was it created with a beth? To teach you that there 
are two worlds. 4 Another interpretation: why with a beth? 
Because it connotes blessing (berakah). 5 And why not with , 
an alef? Q Because it connotes cursing. 7 Another inter- 
pretation: Why not with an alef? In order not to provide 
a justification for heretics to plead, 'How can the world 
endure, seeing that it was created with the language of 
cursing?' 8 Hence the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'Lo, 
I will create it with the language of blessing, and would 
that it may stand!' Another interpretation: why with a 
beth? Just as a beth has two projecting points, one pointing 
upward and the other backward, 9 so when we ask it, 'Who 

1 3 is the first letter: nnwn. 

2 Tosaf . in Hag. 11a s.v. to explains that this may refer either to 
space or to time, or to both space and time. 

3 I.e. since the beginning of the Creation. Thus one may actually study 
or lecture (v. Hag. lib) on the Creation itself. 

* Beth (h) has the numerical value of two. 

5 Beth is the first letter of the word berakah (r\y\$). 

6 The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 

7 Alef («) is the first letter of arur (thn), cursed. 

8 Cf. Aboth v, i, where it is stated that the wicked destroy the world. 
But they would have been able to plead that it could not endure in any 
case. 

9 This refers to the two taggin ('daggers') on the top of the beth, thus 
5: one points upwards and the other backwards. The edd. read: and 
one below, at the back; this would refer to the backward projection of the 
beth, whereby it differs from the kaf, thus: beth 2, kaf 3. 



I. lO-Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

created thee ? ' it intimates with its upward point, ' He who 
is above created me/ And if we ask further, 'What is His 
name ? ' it intimates to us with its back point : ' The Lord 
is His name.' 1 R, Leazar 2 b. Abinah said in R. Aha's name: 
For twenty-six generations 3 the alef complained before the 
Holy One, blessed be He, pleading before Him : ' Sovereign 
of the Universe! I am the first of the letters, yet Thou 
didst not create Thy world with me ! ' God answered : ' The 
world and its fullness were created for the sake of the 
Torah alone. To-morrow, when I come to reveal My Torah 
at Sinai, I will commence with none but thee: I (anokl) 4 
am the Lord your God' (Ex. xx, 2). Bar Hutah said: Why 
is it called alef? Because it denotes the sum of a thousand, 
viz. The word which He commanded for a thousand (elef) 5 
generations (Ps. cv, 8). 6 

ii. R. Simon said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: 
Manzapak 7 is a Mosaic halachah from Sinai. 8 R, Jeremiah 
said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba: They are what the 
zofim [i.e. Seers] instituted. 9 It once happened on a stormy 
day that the Sages did not attend the House of Assembly 
[i.e. the Academy]. Some children were there and they 
said, 'Come and let us study [the letters instituted by] 
the Seers. Why are there two forms for mem, nun, zade, 
peh, and kaf? 10 It teaches [that the Torah was transmitted] 

1 J. Irlag. ad he. reads: ^ is His name, adon (]m) is His name. 

Thus the backward projection points back to the alef, standing for ]ra. 

But Yalkut reads: 'the Lord is One (ins) is His name; i.e. it points 

back to k, which is numerically one. 

* More familiarly known as 'Eleazar', but these Palestinian forms are 

retained in the translation. Edd. R. Eleazar b. IJanina, 

3 V. p. 7, n. 1. 4 -ttSK. s Heb. tp». 

9 Mah. interprets : He (God) agreed (i,e, contemplated) to give the Torah 

for a thousand (elef) generations; v. infra, xxvin, 4, and IJag. 13& bottom 

seq. V. also S.S. R., p. 243, n. 3. 

7 This is a mnemonic: i.e. the letters suxats. These have different 
forms when they come at the end of a word, viz. iqn&; v. Shab. 
104a and notes ad loc. in Sonc. ed. 

8 The double forms were then instituted. 

9 Hence the mnemonical form manzapak, connected with zofim, instead 
of kamanpazy following the order of the Hebrew letters. 

10 Lit. 'why is it written mem mem, nun nun,' etc. ? 

IO 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. 11-12 

from utterance to utterance, from Faithful to faithful, 
from Righteous to righteous, from mouth to mouth, and 
from hand to hand. (From utterance to utterance — from 
the utterance of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the 
utterance of Moses. From Faithful to faithful— from the 
Almighty, who is designated, "God, faithful King," to 
Moses, who is designated faithful, as it is written, He 
[sc. Moses] is faithful (E.V. "trusted") in all My house 
(Num. xii, 7). From Righteous to righteous— from God, 
who is designated righteous, as it is written, The Lord is 
righteous in all His ways (P s . cxlv, 17), to Moses who is 
designated righteous, as it is written, He executed the right- 
eousness of the Lord (Deut. xxxiii, 21). 1 From mouth to 
mouth — from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, 
to the mouth of Moses. From hand to hand:) 2 from the 
hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the hand of Moses/ 
The scholars noted them, and they grew to be great sages 
in Israel; some say that they were R. Eliezer, R. Joshua, 
and R. Akiba. 3 They applied to them the verse, Even a 
child is known by his doings, etc. (Prov. xx, 11). 

12. In the beginning God created. R. Judah 
said in the name of Akilas 4 : Him it is fitting to designate 
God. In human practice an earthly king is honoured in his 
realm even before he has built them public baths or 
provided them with private baths. 6 (Simeon b. 'Azzai 
quoted: And Thy condescension [modesty] hath made me 
great (11 Sam. xxn, 36). A human being states his name 
first and then his title, thus: So-and-so the Prefect, So- 
and-so of whatever title it may be. 6 ) But the Holy One, 

1 The verse (v. first half, which mentions the ruler) is understood to refer 

to Moses. a The bracketed passage is added from various MSS. 

3 In the corresponding passage in J. Meg. 1 R. Akiba is omitted; 

apparently with reason, since he was a pupil of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua, 

and began his studies at an advanced age (v. Ned. 50a). Radal, however, 

justifies the inclusion of his name. 

* The famous proselyte who translated the Bible into Greek, and who 

was said to be a relation by marriage to Hadrian; v. J.E, s.v. Aquila. 

5 Or perhaps: or bestowed gifts upon them. 

e Thus his name comes first and then his claim to greatness in the form 

of the title he bears, which testifies to his achievements. 

II 



I. I2~I3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

blessed be He, is not so, for He recorded His name only 
after creating the requirements of His universe : I n t 11 e 
beginning created, and then God. 

13. R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: How do we know that 
one must not declare ' [I vow this] to the Lord as a burnt- 
offering, ' 'to the Lord as a meal-offering,' 'to the Lord 
as a peace-offering ' ; but must declare : ' [This be] a burnt- 
offering to the Lord/ 'a meal-offering to the Lord/ 'a 
peace-offering to the Lord'? Because it is stated: When 
any man of you bringeth an offering unto the Lord (Lev. 1, 2). 1 
Now you can surely argue from this : If when one is going 
to dedicate [a sacrifice] the Torah directs, Let him cause 
the Divine Name to be related to nought but the sacrifice 2 , 
then they who revile, blaspheme, and engage in idolatry, 
will surely be blotted out from the world! 

The heaven and the earth. The Rabbis said: 
Mortal man builds an edifice, and if he succeeds according 
to his intentions, he can widen it as the building rises; 3 
but if not, he must broaden it below and narrow it at 
the top. The Holy One, blessed be He, is not so, however; 
He built the heaven, i.e. the heaven which he originally 
contemplated, and the earth, viz. the earth which He 
originally contemplated. 4 R. Huna said in the name of 
R. Eliezer, the son of R. Jose the Galilean: Even those 
whereof it is written, For, behold, I create new heavens 
(Isa. lxv, 17), have been created long ago, since the six 
days of Creation, as it is written, For as the new heavens 
. . . remain before Me (ib. lxvi, 22): not 'new' is written 
here, but 'the new\ 5 

For the actual reason v. Ned. 10a. 3 I.e. God's name must be men- 

tioned only after the sacrifice. * Only if it turns out as strong as he 
planned it can the upper portions be broader than the lower. 

4 He had no need to modify His original designs. This explains the use 
of the definite art. 'the', for otherwise, since these were new creations, 
Scripture should have written, 'God created heaven and earth/ 

5 The^ def. art. implies the specific new heavens, viz. those created 
aforetime. 'E.J.: it intimates therefore that the new heavens are already 
created, but only potentially, i.e. in God's thought. Mali, explains it 
differently. 

12 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [I. I4-I5 

14. Eth the heavens and eth the earth. 1 R. 
Ishmael asked R. Akiba : ' Since you have studied twenty- 
two years under Nahum of Gimzo, 2 [who formulated the 
principle that] ak (save that) and rah (except) are limita- 
tions, while eth and gam (also) are extensions, 3 [tell me], 
what of the eth written here ? ' Said he to him : ' If it stated, 
"In the beginning God created heaven and earth/' we 
might have maintained that heaven and earth too are 
divine powers/ 4 Thereupon he cited to him, For it is no 
empty thing from you (Deut. xxxn, 47), and if it is empty, 
it is so on your account, 6 because you are unable to interpret 
it [rightly]. No: eth the heavens is to include 
the sun and moon, the stars and planets ; we-eth the 
earth is to include trees, herbage, and the Garden of Eden. 6 

15. The heaven and the earth. Beth Shammai 
maintain: The heaven was first created; while Beth Hillel 
hold: The earth was first created. In the view of Beth 
Shammai this is parallel to the case of a king who first 
made his throne and then his footstool, for it is written, 
The heaven is My Throne y and the earth is My footstool 
(Isa. lxvi, 1). On the view of Beth Hillel this is to be 
compared to a king who builds a palace; after building 
the nether portion he builds the upper, for it is written, 
In the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven (Gen. 
11, 4). R. Judah b. R. Ilai said: This supports Beth Hillel, 
viz. Of old Thou didst lay the foundations of the earthy 
which is followed by, And the heavens are the work of Thy 
hands (Ps. en, 26). R. IJanin said: From the very text 
which [apparently] supports Beth Shammai, 7 Beth Hillel 
refute them, viz. And the earth was (Gen. 1, 2), meaning 

1 Eth is the sign of the ace. a A town in Judea. By a play on words this 
name is frequently connected with gam zu, 'this too,' because whatever 
happened Nahurn would say, 'This too shall be for good ' (v. Ta'an. 21a). 
8 Which extend and add to the verse. 

4 I.e. without the sign of the accusative they might be regarded as 
nominatives and additional subjects of created', or (*EJ.) as in apposition 
to ' God \ 5 The o of nsn may be causative : if you find it empty, it is 
through your own fault (Mah.). 6 V. Hag. iza where this is repeated 
with some variations. 7 Viz. our text, in which heaven comes first. 

13 



I. 15] MIDRASH RABBAH 

that it had already existed [before heaven]. 1 R. Johanan, 
reporting the Sages, said : As regards creation, heaven was 
first; as regards completion, earth was first. Said R. 
Tanhuma: I will state the grounds [of this opinion]: as 
regards creation heaven was first, as it is written, I N 

THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN; whereas 

in respect of completion earth took precedence, for it is 
written, In the day that the Lord God made earth and 
heaven. R. Simeon observed: I am amazed that the fathers 
of the world 2 engage in controversy over this matter, for 
surely both were created [simultaneously] like a pot and 
its lid, [as it is written], When I call unto them [sc. heaven 
and earth], they stand up together (Isa. XLVin, 13). R. Eleazar 
b. R. Simeon observed: If my father's view is right, why 
is the earth sometimes given precedence over the heaven, 
and sometimes heaven over earth ? In fact it teaches that 
they are equal to each other. 3 

Everywhere Abraham is mentioned before Isaac, and 
Isaac before Jacob; yet in one place it says, Then will I 
remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant 
with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham (Lev. xxvi, 
42): this teaches that the three are on a par. 

Everywhere Moses is mentioned before Aaron, yet in 
one place it says, These are that Aaron and Moses (Ex. VI, 
26): this teaches that they are on a par. 

Everywhere Joshua is mentioned before Caleb, yet in 
one place it says, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the 
Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun (Num. xxxn, iz): 
this teaches that they are on a par* 

Everywhere a father's honour is mentioned before the 
mother's honour, but in one place it says, Ye shall fear 
every man his mother, and his father (Lev, XIX, 3) : this 
teaches that both are on a par. 

1 Translating hayyethah as a pluperfect: had been. 

a The Sages, so called because by virtue of their teachings they were as 

spiritual fathers to all. 

s But has no bearing on precedence. Others, however, regard this as a 

confirmation : if it is as my father states, it is right that they are not always 

mentioned in the same order, and the verse teaches that they are of equal 

importance precisely because neither took precedence of the other. 

14 



[II. 1-2 



Chapter II (BERESHITH) 



I. NOW THE EARTH WAS UNFORMED AND VOID, 
AND DARKNESS WAS UPON THE FACE OF THE DEEP; 
AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD HOVERED OVER THE FACE 

OF THE waters (i, 2). R. Berekiah quoted: Even a child 
is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether 
it be right (Prov. xx, 11). Said R. Berekiah: While she [the 
earth] was as yet immature [in her infancy], she produced 
thorns ; and so the prophet was one day destined to prophesy 
of her, / beheld the earth, and, lo, it was waste and void 
(Jer. iv, 23). 

2. NOW THE EARTH WAS TOHU E.V. 'UNFORMED', 

etc. R. Abbahu and R. Judah b. R. Simon [gave the follow- 
ing illustrations], R. Abbahu said: This may be compared 
to the case of a king who bought two slaves on the same 
bill of sale and at the same price. One he ordered to be 
supported at the public expense, while the other he ordered 
to toil for his bread. The latter sat bewildered and 
astonished 1 : 'Both of us were bought at the same price/ 
exclaimed he, 'yet he is supported from the treasury 
whilst I have to gain my bread by my toil!' Thus the 
earth sat bewildered and astonished, saying, ' The celestial 
beings [sc. the angels] and the terrestial ones [sc. man] 
were created at the same time: yet the celestial beings 
are fed by the radiance of the Shechinah, whereas the 
terrestial beings, if they do not toil, do not eat. Strange 
it is indeed!' R. Judah b. R. Simon said: Compare this 
case to a king who bought two bondmaids, both on the 
same bill of sale and at the same price. One he commanded 
not to stir out from the palace, while for the other he 
decreed banishment. The latter sat bewildered and 
astonished. 'Both of us were bought on the same bill of 
sale, and at the same price/ she exclaimed, 'yet she does 
not stir from the palace while against me he has decreed 

x The words are connected with tohu and bohu y — his mind not being able 
to formulate a reason and void of all understanding for the grounds of 
his treatment. 

15 



II. 2~3] MIDRASH KABBAH 

banishment. How amazing ! * Thus the earth sat bewildered 
and astonished, saying, 'The celestial and the tcrrestial 
beings were created at the same time : why do the former 
live [eternally], whereas the latter are mortal?' Therefore, 
And the earth was tohu and bohu (bewildered 
and astonished). 1 R. Tanhuma said: This may be 
compared to a royal infant sleeping in his cot while his 
nurse sat by anxious and troubled. Why? Because she 
knew that she was fated to receive punishment at his hand. 2 
Thus the earth foresaw that she was destined to meet 
her doom at the hand of man, as it is written, Cursed is 
the ground for thy sake (Gen. in, 17). Therefore The 

EARTH WAS TOHU AND BOHU (DESOLATE AND 
ANXIOUS). 

3. NOW THE EARTH WAS UNFORMED, etc. R. Judah 

b. R. Simon interpreted the text as referring to the genera- 
tions. Now the earth was unformed: this refers 
to Adam, who was reduced to complete nothingness [on 
account of his sin]. And void refers to Cain, who 
desired to turn the world back to formlessness and empti- 
ness. 3 And darkness symbolises the generation of 
Enosh: And their works are in the dark (Isa. xxix, 15). 4 
Upon the face of the deep, the generations of the 
Flood : On the same day were all the fountains of the great 
deep broken up (Gen. vn, 11); further, And the 
spirit (ruah) of God hovered over the face 
of the waters corresponds to And God made a wind 
(ruah) to pass over the earth (ih. vm, 1). Said the Holy 
One, blessed be He : ' How long shall the Universe go on 
in darkness 5 : Let the light come !' So, And Godsaid: 
Let there be light : this alludes to Abraham, as it 
is written, Who hath raised up one from the east, whom 
He calleth in righteousness to His foot (Isa. xli, 2) ? 6 And 
God called the light day (r, 5) symbolises Jacob; 

1 Cf. p. 15, n. 1. * On his account. 

3 Chaos being the inevitable result of lawlessness. * V. infra Ch. xxrv, 
1, which refers to this generation. 6 Sc. moral and religious darkness. 
6 CL infra, xliii, 3 (p. 354). 

16 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [II. 3-4 

And the darkness He called night, Esau; And 

THERE WAS EVENING — Esau J AND THERE WAS MORN- 
ING, — Jacob. One day [teaches] that the Holy One, 
blessed be He, gave him one [unique] day: and which is 
that? the Day of Atonement. 1 

4. R. Simeon b. Lakish applied the passage to the 
[foreign] Powers. Nowthe earth was tohu (E. V. 
'unformed') symbolises Babylonia: / beheld the earth, 
and, lo> it was tohu — E.V. 'waste' (Jer. iv, 23) 2 ; And 
bohu (E.V. 'void') symbolises Media: They hastened 
(wa-yabhillu) to bring Haman (Est. vi, 14). 3 And dark- 
ness symbolises Greece, which darkened the eyes of 
Israel with its decrees, ordering Israel, 'Write on the 
horn of an ox that ye have no portion in the God of Israel/ 4 
Upon the face of the deep — this wicked State 5 : 
just as the great deep cannot be plumbed, so one cannot 
plumb [the depths of iniquity of] this wicked State. And 
the spirit of God hovered: this alludes to the 
spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord 
shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). In the merit of what will 
[this spirit] eventually come ? [For the sake of that which] 
hovered over the face of the waters, i.e. in the 
merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is 
written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. 11, 19). R. Haggai 
said in the name of R. Pedath : A covenant was made with 
water 6 that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it. 7 

1 I.e. it is the one day over which Satan, symbolising the wickedness 
of Esau, has no power; cf. infra, nr, 8. 

2 Jeremiah refers to the desolation wrought by the conquering might of 
Babylonia. Tohu and bohu are applied to Babylonia and Media (Persia) 
respectively in the sense that they caused chaos and destruction. 

8 This happened in Media, and wa-yabhillu is linked up with 'bohu*. 
Or possibly wa-yabhillu is read: wayabo bohu lo f and they brought 
desolation to him. — Mah. 

4 The reference is to Antiochus who endeavoured to annihilate Judaism 
and implant Hellenism in its stead ; ' write on the horn of an ox ' probably 
implies a public disavowal of Judaism. 5 Pesil?. R.: to the wicked 

State of Edom — i.e. Rome. 6 I.e. it is the eternal nature of water* 

7 He translates ' ruah ' literally, wind, and also stresses the present tense 
of merahefeth, lit. 'hovers'; thus the verse means that at all times a 
breeze, caused by God, stirs over the waters. 

17 c 



II. 4~5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

It once happened that Simeon b. Zoma was standing 
wrapped in speculation, when R. Joshua passed and 
greeted him once and a second time, without his answering 
him. At the third time he answered him in confusion. 
'What means this, Ben Zoma!' exclaimed he: 'whence 
are the feet?' 1 'From nowhere, Rabbi/ replied he. 2 'I call 
heaven and earth to witness that I will not stir hence until 
you inform me whence are the feet/ he urged. 'I was 
contemplating the Creation [and have come to the conclu- 
sion] that between the upper and the nether waters there 
is but two or three fingerbreadths/ he answered. 'For it 
is not written here, Andthespiritof God blew, 
but hovered, like a bird flying and flapping with its 
wings, its wings barely touching [the nest over which it 
hovers]/ Thereupon R. Joshua turned to his disciples 
and remarked to them, 'The son of Zoma has gone/ 3 
But a few days elapsed and the son of Zoma was in his 
[eternal] home. 

5. R. Abbahu and R. fliyya Rabbah 4 were engaged in 
discussion. R. Abbahu said: From the very beginning of 
the world's creation the Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw 
the deeds of the righteous and the deeds of the wicked. 

Thus, NOW THE EARTH WAS FORMLESS AND VOID 

alludes to the deeds of the wicked ;And God said: 
Let there be light, to the actions of the righteous. 
I still might not know in which of these He delights, 
the former or the latter. But from what is written, And 



1 The passage is difficult. The commentaries offer several explanations, 
which are all rejected by Theodor, who thinks that this was an esoteric 
or mystical question on the Creation. 

2 Or possibly 'n is an abbreviation for ta^Ai (feet) — Theodor. In either 
case his reply seems to have been a refusal to answer, as R. Joshua's 
rejoinder shows. 

8 Passed away — he has immersed himself too deeply in supra-mundane 
thought — the Creation — and is no longer for this world. 
4 Since he is coupled with R. Abbahu, R. Hiyya b. Abba, an Amora, 
must be meant here. In Pesifc. xxi, however, this passage is introduced 
by *R. Hiyya Rabbah taught {tani)\ in which case it refers to R. Hiyya 
the Elder, a Tanna, and designated Rabbah (the Great or Elder) to 
distinguish him from the Amora of the same name. 

18 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [II. 5 

God saw the light, that it was good (i, 4), it 
follows that He desires the deeds of the righteous, and 
not the deeds of the wicked. R. Btiyya Rabbah said : From 
the very beginning of the world's creation the Holy One, 
blessed be He, foresaw the Temple built, destroyed, and 
rebuilt. In the beginning God created [symbolises 
the Temple] built, as you read, That I may plant the 
heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto 
Zion; Thou art My people (Isa. li, 16). 1 Now the 
earth was tohu (E.V. 'unformed') alludes to [the 
Temple] destroyed, as you read, I beheld the earth, and, 
lo, it was tohu — E.V. 'waste' (Jer. iv, 23). And God 
said: Let there be light, i.e. rebuilt and firmly 
established in the Messianic era, as you read, Arise, shine, 
for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen 
upon thee, etc. (Isa. lx, i). 

1 I.e. the foundations are laid when God will say ' Thou art', etc., which 
will come to pass with the rebuilding of Zion and the Temple. — Mah. 



III. i~4] 

Chapter III (BERESHITH) 

i. And God said: Let there be light (i, 3). R. 
Isaac opened with: The opening of Thy words giveth light; 
it giveth understanding unto the simple (Ps. cxix, 130). 
R. Judah and R. Nehemiah disagree. R. Judah maintains: 
The light was created first, this being comparable to a 
king who wished to build a palace, but the site was a dark 
one. What did he do? He lit lamps and lanterns, to know 
where to lay the foundations ; in like manner was the light 
created first. R. Nehemiah said: The world was created 
first, this being similar to the king who built a palace 
and then adorned it with lights. Thus far did R. Judan 
interpret. But R. Phinehas and R. Judah b. R. Simon 
came, and R. fjanin in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac, 
and preached : ' The opening of Thy words giveth light f : 
The opening of Thy mouth was light tous: And God 
said: Let there be light. 

2. R. Berekiah commenced in the name of R. Judah 
b. R. Simon: By the word of the Lord were the heavens 
made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth 
(Ps. xxxiii, 6): not by labour or toil but only by a word; 
thus, And God said: Let there be light. 

3. R. Simeon b. Yohai commenced: A man hath joy in 
the answer of his mouth, and a word in season, how good it is 
(Prov. xv, 23) ! ( A Man hath joy ' alludes to the Holy One, 
blessed be He: The Lord is a Man of war (Ex. xv, 3); 
'In the answer of his mouth/ viz. And God said: 
Let there be light; 'And a word in season, how good 
it is': thus it is written, And God saw the light, 
that it was good. 

4. And God said: Let there be light, etc. R. 
Simeon b. R. Jehozadak asked R. Samuel b. Nahman: 
' As I have heard that you are a master of haggadah, tell 
me whence the light was created?' He replied: 'The 
Holy One, blessed be He, wrapped Himself therein as in 

20 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [III. 4-5 

a robe and irradiated with the lustre of His majesty the 
whole world from one end to the other/ Now he had 
answered him in a whisper, whereupon he observed, 
* There is a verse which states it explicitly: Who coverest 
Thyself with light as with a garment (Ps. civ, 2), yet you 
say it in a whisper!' 'Just as I heard it in a whisper, so 
have I told it to you in a whisper,' he rejoined. R. Berekiah 
remarked: Had not R. Isaac taught it, 1 could we have 
said it! 2 Before this, what did they say [on the matter]? 
R. Berekiah said in R. Isaac's name : The light was created 
from the place of the Temple, as it is said, And, behold, 
the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and His voice 
was like the sound of many waters ; and the earth did shine with 
His glory (Ezek. xliii, 2). Now ' His glory * is nought else but 
the Temple, as you read: Thou throne of glory, on high from 
the beginning, Thou place of our sanctuary (Jer. xvu, 12). 

5. R. Simon said: 'Light' is written five times [in this 
paragraph], corresponding to the Books of His Torah. 
Now God said: Let there be light corresponds to 
Genesis, in which is recorded that the Holy One, blessed 
be He, engaged in the creation of His world ; And 
there was light, to Exodus, 3 in which it is told how 
the Israelites went forth from Egypt, out of darkness into 
light; And God saw the light, etc., to Leviticus, 
which is filled with numerous laws; And God divided 
the light, to Numbers, which divides between those who 
departed from Egypt and those who entered the [holy] land; 
And God called the light [day], to Deuteronomy, 
which is filled with numerous laws. But, they [his hearers] 
objected, ' Is not Leviticus filled with numerous laws ? ' 4 — 
This passage, too, has, a repetition, viz. And God called 
the light day: now surely light and day are identical! 5 



1 Th»: publicly; and so explicitly in edd. 

2 Certainly not, as we would have regarded it as esoteric lore. 

8 Lit. 'now these are the names' — the first words of Exodus; similarly 
the names of the Books which follow. * Why have two similar allusions ? 
5 Hence it is fitting that this verse should correspond to Deuteronomy, 
which also contains much repetition of the previous Books (M.K.). 

21 



III. 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

6. It was taught : The light which was created in the six 
days of Creation 1 cannot illumine by day, because it would 
eclipse the light of the sun, nor by night, because it was 
created only to illumine by day. Then where is it? It is 
stored up for the righteous in the Messianic future, as it 
says, Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light 
of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the 
light of the seven days (Isa. xxx, 26). Seven! surely there 
were but three, seeing that the luminaries were created 
on the fourth day! 2 It is like a man who says, 'I am pro- 
viding so much for the seven days of my [wedding] feast/ 3 
R. Nehemiah said : It refers to the seven days of mourning 
for Methuselah, when the Holy One, blessed be He, 
lavished light upon them. 4 

And God saw the light. R. Ze'ira, the son of R. 
Abbahu, lectured in Caesarea 5 : Whence do we know that 
you must not recite a blessing over a lamp unless you can 
enjoy its light? From this: And he saw ... and 
he pronounced a division. 6 R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said : He [God] set it apart for Himself. 7 Our Rabbis said : 
He set it apart for the righteous for the future, just like 
a king who had a goodly portion [served to him at table], 

1 I.e. the light which came into existence at God's command, not that 
shed by the sun. 

2 The light of the seven days is the special light created by God's fiat 
'Let there be light*. But this served for three days only, not seven, since 
the sun was created on the fourth day, which rendered the first light 
superfluous. 

a Though he does not intend it to suffice for the whole period. Similarly 
we speak of the light of the seven days, though it did not serve for so long. 

4 V. infra, xxxn, 7, and Sanh. 108&. 

5 Several cities bore that name : (i) Caesarea by the Sea, originally called 
'Strato's Tower', and some 75 miles from Jerusalem; (ii) Caesarea 
Philippi, identical with Paneas; and (iii) Csesarea in Cappadocia, of 
which it was the capital. 

6 A ceremony, called habdalah (division), is performed at the termination 
of Sabbaths and festivals, in which the distinction between these and 
non-holy days is mentioned. Part of the ceremony consists of 
pronouncing a blessing over light (v. Pes. 54#), and R. Ze'ira states 
that one must actually benefit from the light before he may pronounce 
the blessing. Wayyabdel (E.V. 'divided') is thus connected with the 
ceremony of habdalah, and we learn that it can be done only when the 
light is seen, i.e. enjoyed. 7 This first light which He created. 

22 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [III. 6-7 

but set it aside for his son. R. Berekiah said: Thus did 
two men of world renown, R. Johanan and R. Simeon 
b. Lakish, expound it: 'And he divided' (wayyabdel) con- 
notes a literal division. Imagine a king who had two chiefs 
of the guards, one in command by day and the other in 
command at night, who used to quarrel with one another, 
each claiming, 'I must have command by day/ Thereupon 
the king summoned the first and said to him, ' So-and-so, 
the day shall be your province'; summoning the second 
he addressed him, ' So-and-so, night shall be your pro- 
vince/ Thus God called the light [for service 
by] day, saying to it, 'The day shall be thy province'; 
And the darkness called He [for service at] 
night, saying to it, 'Night shall be thy province/ R. 
Johanan observed: That is what the Holy One, blessed 
be He, said to Job: 'Hast thou commanded the morning? 
(Job. xxxviii, 12) — strange 'twere indeed! And caused the 
dayspring to know its place (ib.) — 'twere amazing! hast thou 
really made it known which is its place [i.e. time — to func- 
tion in]!' 1 R. Tanhuma said: I can cite the grounds [for 
this statement] : I form the light, and create darkness, I make 
peace (Isa. xlv, 7); having created them, He makes peace 
between them. 

And God called the light, day (i, 5). R. 
Eleazar said: The Holy One, blessed be He, does not 
link His name with evil, but only with good. Thus it is 
not written here, And God called the light Day, and the 
darkness God called Night, but And the dark- 
ness called He night. 

7. And there was evening, etc. R. Judah b. R. 
Simon said: 'Let there be evening' is not written here, 
but And there was evening: hence we know that 
a time-order existed before this. 2 R. Abbahu said: This 
proves that the Holy One, blessed be He, went on creating 

1 Yada'ta {fcat) can hardly be treated as a causative, as here; Y.T. thinks 
it probable that it is understood as ydadeta; hast thou appointed a place 
for day, i.e. when it should function. 
* By rendering: And evening (already) was — ere now. 

23 



III. 7-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

worlds and destroying them until He created this one and 
declared, 'This one pleases Me; those did not please Me/ 
R. Phinehas said : This is R. Abbahu's reason : And God saw 
everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good 
(Gen. 1, 31): this pleases Me, but those did not please Me. 1 

8. R. Jannai said : From the very beginning of the world's 
creation the Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw the deeds 
of the righteous and the deeds of the wicked. 'And the 
earth was desolate' alludes to the deeds of the wicked: 
'And God said: Let there be light, 1 to those of the righteous ; 
'And God saw the light, that it was good,' to the deeds of 
the righteous ; 'And God made a division between the light 
and the darkness ' : between the deeds of the righteous and 
those of the wicked; 'And God called the light day' alludes 
to the deeds of the righteous, 'And the darkness called He 
night,' to those of the wicked; And there was 
evening, to the deeds of the wicked, And there 
was morning, to those of the righteous; One day: 
the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them one day, and 
which is that? It is the Day of Judgment. 2 R. Tanhum 
said: It was on the day on which unique things were 
created, viz. heaven, earth, and light. 3 R. Judan said: 
The day in which the Holy One, blessed be He, was One 
in His universe. This agrees with R. Johanan but not with 
R. IJanina. For R. Johanan said: The angels were created 
on the second day, as it is said, Who layest the beams of 
Thine upper chambers in the waters, and it is written, Who 
makest the spirits Thine angels (Ps. civ, 3Q. R. tjanina said: 
The angels were created on the fifth day, 4 as it is written, 
And let fowl fly above the earth (Gen. I, 20), and it is written, 
And with twain he did fly (Isa. vi, 2). R. Luliani b. Tabri 

The deduction is from behold (hinneh), which implies that only what He 
now saw was very good in His eyes. 
2 I.e. the Day of Atonement. Cf. supra, 11, 3, 5. 

8 Of each of these there is only one ; cf. infra, xi, 9. Others translate ; the 
day when a new heaven, earth, and light were created; cf. supra, 1, 13. 
* Hence it was not on the first day only that God was unique and alone 
in the universe. 

24 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [III. 8-9 

said in R. Isaac's name: Whether we accept the view of 
R. Hanina or of R. Johanan, all agree that none were 
created on the first day, lest you should say, Michael 
stretched [the world] in the south of the firmament and 
Gabriel in the north, while the Holy One, blessed be He, 
measured it in the middle ; but I am the Lord that mdkeih 
all things ; that stretched forth the heavens alone; that spread 
abroad the earth by Myself — me-itti (ib. xliv, 24) : mi itti 
(who was with Me?) is written; who was associated with 
Me in the creation of the world P 1 

9. R. Samuel b. Ammi said: From the beginning of the 
world's creation the Holy One, blessed be He, longed to 
enter into partnership with the mortals. For what will you : 
if it is a matter of time reckoning, it should say either one, 
two, three, or first, second, third, 2 but surely not, one, 
second, third! 3 When did the Holy One, blessed be He, 
repay them ? At the erection of the Tabernacle, as it says, 
And he that presented his offering the first day (Num. vn, 12), 
meaning, the first of the world's creation, for God said, 
'It is as though on that day I created My world.' 4 That 
day took ten crowns 5 : it was the first of the creation, 6 first 
in respect of kings, 7 the princes, 8 the priesthood, 9 and the 

x V. supra, 1, 3. 

2 The creation narrative should either state, one day, two days, three 
days, etc., or the first day, the second day, etc. Instead of which it states 
* one day ', and continues with ' the second day ', ' the third day', etc. Hence 
* yom ehad' (one day) really means: the day when He designed to be at 
one with man, His handiwork. — The world thus requires the harmonious 
co-operation of God and man, and its harmony and unity are broken 
when man sins. 

3 When did He restore the designation 'first day' which is lacking from 
the Creation narrative (M.K.). 

4 This is deduced from the def. art. ' the', — Thus the world is not really 
created until man does God's will, here symbolised by the erection of the 
Temple, and thereby His original design to be at one with man is fulfilled. 

5 It was pre-eminent in ten respects. 
c I.e. it was the first day of the week. 

7 Kings date their reigns from the first day of Nisan (v. R.H. 2a), and on 
that day the Tabernacle was erected (Ex. XL, 2). 

8 On that day they began bringing their dedication gifts. 

9 This was the first day that the priesthood functioned in the sacrificial 
services, for previously the firstborn had performed these duties. 

25 



III. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Shechinahy 1 (as it says, And let them make Me a sanctuary \ 
that I may dwell among them (Ex. xxv, 8)) ; it was first in 
respect of blessing, sacrificial service, 2 the prohibition of 
high places, 3 killing at the north [side of the Altar], and 
the descending of fire, 4 as it is said, And there came forth 
fire from before the Lord (Lev. ix, 24). 5 

1 The Shechinah dwelt there for the first time. 

2 The priestly blessing (v. Num. vi, 22-27) was pronounced for the first 
time, and the public sacrificial services were then inaugurated. 

3 Before the erection of the Tabernacle private sacrifices could be 
offered at any high place. 

* Fire descended on that day from heaven for the first time. 
6 V. Shab. 87^, where there are several variations. 



26 



[IV. 1-2 

Chapter IV (BERESHITH) 

i. And God said: Let there be a firmament 
in the midst of the waters (i, 6). It is written, 
Who roofs Thine upper chambers with water (Ps. civ, 3). 1 
In human affairs, an earthly monarch builds a palace and 
roofs it over with stones, timber, and earth, but the Holy 
One, blessed be He, roofed over His world with nought 
but water, as it is said, ' Who roofs Thine upper chambers 
with water ' ; thus, And God said: Let there 
be a firmament, etc. 2 

2. And God said: Let there be a firmament, 
etc. Our Rabbis said the following in the name of R. Flanina, 
while R. Phinehas and R. Jacob b. R. Bun said it in the 
name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: When the Holy One, 
blessed be He, ordered, Let there be a firmament 
in the midst of the waters, the middle layer of 
water solidified, and the nether heavens and the uppermost 
heavens were formed. Rab said: [God's] handiwork [the 
heavens] was in fluid form, and on the second day it 
congealed; thus Let there be a firmament 
means 'Let the firmament be made strong*. R. Judah b. 
R. Simon said: Let a lining be made for the firmament, 
as you read, And they did beat z the gold into thin plates 
(Ex. xxxix, 3). R. IJanina said: The fire came forth from 
above and dried up the face of the firmament. When 
R. Johanan came to the verse, By His breath [sc. fire] 
the heavens are smoothed — E.V. 'serene* (Job xxvi, 13), 
he would say, 'R. IJanina taught me well/ R. Judan b. 
R. Simon said: The fire came forth from above and 
burnished the face of the firmament. R. Berekiah and 
R. Jacob b. R. Abina in R. Abba b. Kahana's name said: 
The creation story was used [by the prophet] to throw 
light upon Revelation, but was itself explained thereby. 

1 E.V. ' Who lay est the beams of Thine upper chambers in the waters.' 

2 V. Ex. R. xv, 22. a Wayyerake'u, here connected with ra&'a. 

27 



IV. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Thus : As when fire burneth through into parts (Isa. lxiv, i), 1 
which intimates that they divided [between the upper and 
the nether waters]. Now when did the fire divide between 
the upper and the nether: surely at the Revelation! So 
it was, too, at the creation of the world. 2 

3. R. Phinehas said in R. Oshaya's name: As there is a 
void between the earth and the firmament, so is there a 
void between the firmament and the upper waters, as it 
is written, Let there be a firmament in 
the midst of the waters, meaning, midway be- 
tween them. R. Tanhuma said: I will state the proof. If 
it said, And God made the firmament, and He divided 
between the waters . . . which are upon the firmament, 
I would say that the water lies directly upon the firmament 
itself. Since, however, it is stated, 'And between the waters 
which are above the firmament, 3 it follows that the upper 
waters are suspended by the word [of God]. 3 R. Aha said: 
It is like [the flame of] a lamp, 4 and their fruits are the 
rain. 5 

4. A Samaritan asked R. Meir: 'Is it possible that the 
upper water is suspended by [God's] word?' 'Yes/ he 
answered. 'Bring me a water-clock/ 6 he added. When he 

1 E.V. 'As when fire kindleth brushwood'. 

2 The meaning is this : The previous verse states, O that Thou wouldst 
rend the heavens, etc., which is followed by 'As when fire burneth into 
parts' . The Midrash applies the former verse to Revelation, and interprets 
the verses as meaning that when God rent the heavens to give the Torah, 
it was even as when fire burned through and divided the upper from 
the nether waters. Similarly, the fire at Revelation divided the terrestial 
beings (men) from the upper (celestial spheres). But it is not actually 
stated elsewhere that fire did act thus at the Creation, and so this verse, 
whose primary purpose is to teach us about Revelation by likening it 
to the Creation, tells us something new about the Creation itself. 

* He stresses the word ' above ' (me-'al), which is not the same as ' upon * ('at). 
4 Which seems to be suspended in the air. 5 The upper waters drip 

through the heat of the firmament, the dripping being the rain we enjoy. 
e The meaning of the word is doubtful. It would appear to mean a 
clepsydra, a contrivance for measuring time by the flow of water. The 
bottom was perforated with such small holes that if the upper aperture 
was completely closed the water would not flow out from the bottom* 
Levi: a syringe or squirt. 

28 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IV. 4 

brought it, he placed a gold plate upon it, but the water 
did not stand still; then a silver plate, but the water did 
not stand still. But as soon as he placed his ringer [upon 
the aperture], the water stood still. 1 'But you have put 
your finger there/ he objected. — 'If my finger stays the 
water, though I am but flesh and blood, how much more 
so the finger of the Holy One, blessed be He ! Hence the 
upper waters are suspended by [God's] word.' 

Said he to him: 'Is it possible that He of whom it is 
written, Do I not fill heaven and earth? (Jer. xxiii, 24) 
spoke to Moses from between the two staves of the Ark ? ' 
'Bring me a large mirror/ said he. When he brought it 
he said to him, 'Look at your reflection/ and he saw it, 
large. 'Bring me a small 2 mirror.' He brought it. 'See your 
reflection in it/ He saw it, small. 'If you, who are but 
flesh and blood/ said he, 'can change yourself at will, 
how much more so He at whose word the world came into 
existence! Thus when He so wishes, "Do I not fill heaven 
and earth?'\ while when He wishes, He speaks to Moses 
from between the staves of the Ark.' R. Ania b. Susay said: 
At times the world and its fullness cannot contain His glory, 
yet at times He speaks to man from between the hairs of 
his head, as it is written, Then the Lord answered Job out 
of the sa'arah — E.V. 'whirlwind' (Job. xxxvm, 1), which 
means, from between the hairs (sa'aroth) of his head. Said 
he to him : ' Is it possible that The river of God is full of 
water (Ps. lxv, 10) since the six days of Creation and has 
not been diminished at all : it is incredible ! ' 3 ' Go in and 
bathe, and weigh yourself before you enter and after you 
have gone in,' replied he. He went and weighed himself, 
and his weight had not diminished at all. Said he to him: 
'Now all that perspiration, did it not ooze from you?' 
'Yes,' answered he. 'Then if your fountain [of perspiration] 
did not in any way diminish, though you are but a mere 
mortal, how much the more is this true of the fountain 

1 Thus remaining suspended in spite of the holes beneath it. 

2 Mah. and 'E.J. translate 'magnifying' and ' diminishing \ the reference 
being to a convex and a concave mirror respectively. 

a Whence then comes the rain ? 

29 



IV. 4~S] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of the Holy One, blessed be He! Hence "The river of God 
is full of water" since the six days of Creation, and it has 
not diminished at all/ R. Johanan said: The Holy One, 
blessed be He, took all the primeval water and poured 
half in the firmament and half into the ocean; hence the 
word peleg (the river), 1 meaning palga (half). 

5. The firmament is like a lake, and above the lake is 
a vault, and through the heat of the lake the vault exudes 
moisture; it exudes heavy drops of water, which descend 
into the salt water yet do not combine with it. 2 R. Jonah 
observed: Do not wonder thereat, for lo! the Jordan passes 
through the lake of Tiberias yet does not mingle with it. 
The thing is indeed miraculous ! For when a man is sifting 
wheat or stubble in a sieve, before they have dropped a 
distance of two or three fingerbreadths they intermingle, 
yet these [raindrops] have been travelling so many years 
without intermingling. 3 R. Judah b. R. Simon said: The 
reason is that He causes them to descend in measure. 
[Thus it is written,] For He draweth away (yigra') the drops 
of water (Job xxxvi, 27), [where yigra* is used] in the sense 
of And an abatement shall be made (we-nigra') from thy 
valuation (Lev. xxvn, 18). 4 

The thickness of the firmament equals that of the earth: 
compare, It is He that sitteth above the circle (hug) of the 
earth (Isa. XL, 22) with, And He walketh in the circuit 
(hug) of the heaven (Job xxn, 14) : the use of ' hug* in both 
verses teaches that they are alike. R. Aha said in R. IJanina's 
name: [It is but as] thick as a metal plate. R. Joshua b. 
R. Nehemiah said: It is about two fingers in thickness. 
The son of Pazzi said: The upper waters exceed the 
lower ones by about thirty xestes,* [for it is written,] 
And let it divide the waters from the 

1 In the verse just quoted. 2 V. infra, xm, 10. 

•The Rabbis held that the rain descended from heaven, which is a 
distance of many years' journey above the earth, and yet no drop has 
ever touched another. 

4 The second verse obviously means a calculated deduction, and he under- 
stands the first in a similar sense: He calculatingly draweth away, etc. 

5 A dry and liquid measure, equalling nearly a pint. 

3° 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IV. 5-6 

waters (la-mayim): lamed 1 is thirty. 2 Our Rabbis 
said: They are half and half [i.e. equal]. 

6. And God made the firmament (i, 7). This is 
one of the verses over which the son of Zoma raised a 
commotion: He made — how remarkable! surely it [came 
into existence] at [God's] word, [as it is written,] By the 
word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host 
of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. xxxm, 6). 3 

Why is 'that it was good' not written in connection 
with the second day? R. Johanan explained, and it was 
also thus taught in the name of R. Jose b. R. flalafta: 
Because on it the Gehenna was created, [as it is written,] 
For Tofteh is ordered from yesterday (Isa. xxx, 33), 4 which 
signifies a day to which there was a yesterday but not a 
day before yesterday. 5 R. lianina said: Because in it 
schism was created, [as it is written,] And let it 
divide the waters. R. Tabyomi said: If because of 
a division made for the greater stability and orderliness 
of the world, 'for it was good' is not written in connection 
with that day, then how much the more should this 
apply to a division which leads to its confusion ! R. Samuel 
b. Nahman said: Because the making of the waters was 
not finished 6 : consequently 'for it was good' is written 
twice in connection with the third day, once in respect 
of the making of the waters and a second time on account 
of the work done on that day. 

A [Roman] lady asked R. Jose: 'Why is "for it was 
good" not written in connection with the second day?' 
'Even so, 1 replied he, 'it [the text] subsequently included 
them all [in this description], for it is said, And God saw 
everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good 1 

1 In d^d 1 ?. 

2 Hebrew letters have numerical values. — He interprets the verse thus: 
and let there be a difference between the upper and nether waters of 
thirty (measures of) water. a Whereas 'made* implies work. The 
difficulty remains unanswered (Theodor). 

4 Tofteh being the Gehenna. E.V. 'For a hearth is ordered of old*. 

5 There was a ' yesterday ' to the second day, but not a day before yester- 
day. • Whereas 'for it was good' is applicable only to a completed work. 

3 1 



IV. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

(Gen. i, 31). Said she to him: 'Supposing six men came 
to you and you gave a maneh to all but one, and then you 
gave a second maneh to all of them [jointly] : would not 
each now have a maneh and a sixth, while the one would 
only have one sixth ! ' x Then he explained it a second time 
in the same way as R. Samuel b. Nahman, viz. because 
the making of the water was not finished. Hence 'for it 
was good' is written twice in connection with the third day, 
once on account of the making of the waters and a second 
time on account of the work done on that day. 

R. Levi said in the name of R. Tanhum b. rlanilai: It 
is written, Declaring the end from the beginning (Isa. xlvi, 
10): from the very beginning of the world's creation God 
foresaw [the existence of] Moses who was called, 'for it 
was good' 2 and that he was destined to be punished through 
them 3 ; therefore l for it was good' is not written in con- 
nection therewith. 

R. Simon said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi : This 
is similar to the king who had a very stern legion, and 
said, 'Since this legion is so stern, let it not bear my 
name.' Thus the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'Since 
the generation of Enosh, the generation of the Flood, and 
the generation of the separation of races 4 were punished 
through them [the waters], 5 let "for it was good" not be 
written in connection therewith.' 

7. And God called the firmament heaven — 
shamayim (1, 8). Rab said: [Shamayim is a compound 
of] esh (fire) and mayim (water). R. Abba b. Kahana said 
in Rab's name: The Holy One, blessed be He, took fire 
and water and beat them up together, and from them 
the heaven was made. 

Shamayim is written, for they [the heavens] weigh 

1 Hence the subsequent inclusion still leaves the second day worse off 
than the others. 

2 In So^. 12a R. Meir explained the verse, And when she saw that he 
was good (Ex. 11, 2 q,v.) as meaning that his name was ' Tob' (good). 

8 Sc. the waters, i.e. through his sin at the waters of Meribah 
(Num. xx, 12 f). « V. Gen. xi, 1-9. * V. infra, xxm, 7. 

32 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IV. 7 

up (shamim) the deeds of men : if one is worthy, The heavens 
declare his righteousness (Ps. xcvu, 6); but if not, The 
heavens shall reveal his iniquity (Job xx, 27). 

Shamayim: [It is so called] because men wonder 
(mishtomtnemim) at it, saying: 'Of what (shelmah) is it 
composed ? Of fire ? Of water ? 'Tis a mystery ! ' R. Phinehas 
said in R. Levi's name : It [Scripture] comes and explains 
it : ' Who lay est the beams of Thine upper chambers in the 
waters' (Ps. civ, 3): this shows that it is of water. 

[Shamayim means like] sammim (chemicals): just as 
some chemicals are blue, others red, some black and 
others white, so is heaven : sometimes it is blue, sometimes 
red, sometimes black and sometimes white. 

R. Isaac said: [Shamayim means] sa-mayim y i.e. 
be laden with water. Compare this to milk in a bowl: 
before a drop of rennet falls into it, it quivers, but as 
soon as a drop of rennet falls into it, it immediately curdles 
and stands still. Similarly, The pillars of heaven quiver 
(Job xxvi, 11); then the solidifying substance was infused 
into them, whereupon, 'And there was evening and there 
was morning, a second day' (Gen. 1, 8). 1 That agrees with 
Rab's dictum: [God's] handiwork was liquid and on the 
second day it congealed. 

1 I.e. their solidifying was the work of the second day. 



33 



V. i] 

Chapter V (BERESHITH) 
i. And God said: Let the waters under the 

HEAVEN BE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO ONE 
PLACE, AND LET THE DRY LAND APPEAR (Gen. I, 9). 

It is written, At Thy rebuke they fled (Ps. civ, 7), which 
explains, And God said: Let the waters ... be 

GATHERED TOGETHER, etc. 1 

Let THE WATERS BE GATHERED TOGETHER 

(yikkawu) unto one place, etc. R. Berekiah 
explained it in the name of R. Abba b. Yoma: Let there 
be a measure set for the water, as you read, And a line 
(kaw) shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem (Zech. I, 16). 2 
R. Abba b. Kahana explained it in R. Levi's name thus: 
Let the waters be gathered together for My purpose, [so 
as to perform] what I will one day do by means of them. 
Compare this to a king who built a palace and tenanted 
it with dumb people who used to rise early and pay their 
respects to the king with gestures, with their fingers and 
with their handkerchiefs. 3 Said the king, *If these, who 
are dumb, rise early and pay their respects with gestures, 
with their fingers and with their kerchiefs, how much more 
would they do so if they possessed all their faculties!' 
Thereupon the king tenanted it with men gifted with 
speech, who arose and seized the palace, asserting, 'This 
is not the king's palace: it is our palace!' 'Then let the 
palace return to its original state,' the king ordered. 
Similarly, at the very beginning of the world's creation, 
the praise of the Almighty ascended from nought but the 
water, as it is written, From the voices of many waters 
(Ps. xcili, 4) ; and what did they proclaim ? The Lord on 
high is mighty (ib.). Said the Holy One, blessed be He: 
'If these which have neither mouth nor speech praise 
Me, how much more [will I be praised] when man is 

1 The waters then fled to their appointed place, instead of covering the 
whole world. 2 ' Yifefcawu' is thus derived from %>aw, a measuring 

line, and translated: let the waters be confined to a definite measure 
or quantity. s Or, spears. 

34 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [V. 1-3 

created ! ' But the generation of Enosh arose and rebelled 
against Him 1 ; the generation of the Flood arose and rebelled 
against Him ; the generation of the Separation [of tongues] 
arose and rebelled against Him. Thereupon the Holy 
One, blessed be He, said: 'Let these be removed and the 
former arise and come [in their place]/ Hence it is written, 
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights 
(Gen. vii, i2). : 



, 2 



2. R. Judan and R. Berekiah observed: The whole world 
was one mass of water, yet you actually say, Into one 
place ! This may be compared to ten inflated wine- 
skins lying in a chamber. When the king needs their 
place, what does he do to them? He unties them, permits 
their air to escape, and removes them into a corner. Even 
so did the Holy One, blessed be He, tread down all the 
primeval waters 3 and remove them into the Ocean, as it 
is written, Behold, He [consumeth] the waters, and they dry 
up, also He sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth 
(Job xii, 15); it also says, And He treadeth upon the waves 
of the sea (ib* IX, 8). 

3. R. Levi said: The waters said to each other, 'Let us 
go and obey the fiat of the Holy One, blessed be He'; 
thus it is written, The floods have lifted up their voice, etc. 
(Ps. xcin, 3). 'But whither shall we go/ asked they? 
'Let the floods take up (dokyam)/ 4 replied He. R. Levi 
said: ['Dokyam'] means, derek yam (to the way of the sea). 
R. Abba b. Kahana interpreted it: To such and such a 
place (dok), to such and such a corner. R. Huna explained: 
To this sea (ha-dak yama). R. Joshua b. tjananiah said: 
To the receptacle (diksa) of the sea. 5 R. Eliezer said: The 
sea absorbed them, as you read, Hast thou entered into the 
springs of the sea (Job xxxvm, 16)? Which means, into the 

1 V. infra, xxm, 7. 2 It was for this purpose that the waters were 

to be gathered together at the Creation. 

8 The waters having been hitherto inflated, as it were, and He deflated 

them. 4 E.V. 'their roaring'. 

6 I.e. to the place specially prepared to receive the waters. 

35 



V. 3~5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

waters absorbed by the sea. Our Rabbis interpreted it: 
We are crushed (dakkim): receive us; we are broken: 
receive us. R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah said: The waters 
ascended mountains and descended into the depths, until 
they came to the Ocean [Mediterranean], as it is written, 
They ascended the mountains, they descended into valleys 
unto the place which Thou hast founded for them (Ps. civ, 8): 
which place hast Thou founded for them? The Ocean. 

4. R. Levi said: Some interpreters, e.g. the son of 
'Azzai and the son of Zoma, interpret: The voice of the 
Lord became a guide 1 to the waters, as it is written, The 
voice of the Lord is over the waters (Ps. xxix, 3). 

R. Berekiah said: The upper waters parted from the 
nether waters with weeping, as it is written, He bindeth the 
streams from weeping (Job xxvni, n). 2 R. Tanhuma 
adduced it from the following: He hath made the earth 
by His power . . . at the voice of His giving a multitude of 
waters in the heavens (Jer. x, 12 f). Now 'voice' refers 
to nought but weeping, as you read, A voice is heard in 
Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping {ib. xxxi, 15). 

5. R. Johanan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, made 
a stipulation with the sea that it should divide before 
Israel; thus it is written, And the sea returned (le-ethano) 
— E.V. *to its strength 1 (Ex. xiv, 27): i.e. in accordance 
with its agreement (li-tenao). R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: 
Not with the sea alone did God make a stipulation, but 
with everything which was created in the six days of 
creation, as it is written, 2", even My hands, have stretched 
out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded (Isa. 
xlv, 12). I commanded the sea to divide, and the heavens 
to be silent before Moses, as it says, Give ear, ye 
heavens, and I will speak (Deut. xxxii, 1) ; I commanded 
the sun and the moon to stand still before Joshua; I 
commanded the ravens to feed Elijah ; I commanded the fire 

1 V. Jast. s.v. "iiBtt'iB; i.e. He assigned their courses, etc. 

2 E.V. 'that they trickle not', 

16 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [V. 5-7 

to do no hurt to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; I com- 
manded the lions not to harm Daniel ; the heavens to open 
before Ezekiel; the fish to vomit forth Jonah. 

6. R. Eleazar said: From the very beginning of the 
world's creation the Holy One, blessed be He, issued a 
decree, saying, ' Let the waters under the heaven be gathered 
together unto one place J Wherefore then [is it written], 
That calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out 
upon the face of the earthy twice? 1 Once was in the generation 
of Enosh, and a second time in the generation of the 
Separation [of races]. And God hath so made it (Eccl. in, 
14): all that He has done is in order That men should fear 
before Him (ib.). Compare this to a country that rebelled 
against its king, whereupon the king sent a strong legion 
and marched them round it, so that the inhabitants might 
see it and fear him. Even so, why Gathereth He the waters 
of the sea together as a heap, and layeth up the deeps in 
storehouses (Ps. xxxiii, 7) ? In order that All the inhabitants 
of the world may stand in awe of Him (tb. 8). 

7. In human practice, a man empties a full vessel into 
an empty one; does he ever empty a full vessel into a full 
vessel? Now the world was full of water everywhere, yet 
you say, Unto one place! In truth, from this 
we learn that the little held the much. Similarly, And 
Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the 
rock (Num. xx, 10). Now R. Hanina said: It was but the 
size of the opening of a small sieve, yet all Israel stood 
there ! In truth, from this we learn that the little held the 
much. Similarly, Take to you handfuls of the soot of the 
furnace (Ex. ix, 8): said R. liana, Could then one fistful 
of Moses contain eight handfuls ! 2 For a fistful is not the 
same as a handful, one fistful equalling two handfuls, yet 

1 In Amos v, 8, and ix, 6. Thus He reversed His previous decree that 
the waters should be confined to one place. 

2 Hofen is the hollow of the hand formed by bending the fingers so as 
to touch the wrist; fyomez is the bending of the three middle fingers over 
the hollow of the hand (Jast. s.v. \m and psip). A hofen is normally 

37 



V. 7-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

it is written, And let Moses throw it (ib.), 1 so that one 
fistful of Moses actually contained eight handfuls! From 
this, however, we learn that the little held the much. 
Similarly R. Jose b. Halafta observed: The length of the 
court shall be a hundred cubits, etc. (Ex. xxvir, 18), yet all 
Israel stood there! 2 In fact, from this we learn that the 
little held the much. Similarly, And Joshua said unto the 
children of Israel : Come hither, etc. (Josh, in, 9). R. Huna 
said : He made them stand between the staves of the Ark. 
R. IJama said: He crowded them 3 between the staves of 
the Ark; our Rabbis said: He squeezed them between 
the two staves of the Ark. Said Joshua to them: Hereby 
ye shall know that the living God is among you (ib. 10). 
And in Jerusalem, too, they stood pressed together, yet 
when they prostrated themselves they had ample room. 4 
R. Samuel b. R. Jonah said: Each had four cubits, a cubit 
on each side, so that none should hear his neighbour's 
prayer. And in the future, too, it shall be thus, viz. At that 
time they shall call Jerusalem ' The Throne of the Lord\ 
and all the nations shall be gathered unto it (Jer. in, 17). 
R. Johanan went up to inquire after the wellbeing of 
R. Hanina, and he found him sitting and lecturing on this 
verse: 'At that time they shall call Jerusalem (< The throne 
of the Lord 3 \ and all the nations shall be gathered unto it. 1 
Said he to him : Can it then hold [them all] ! It is amazing 1 
— The Holy One, blessed be He, will order it: 'Lengthen 
[thy boundaries], enlarge [thy space], and receive thy hosts,' 
as it is said, Enlarge the place of thy tent (Isa. liv, 2). 

8. And God called the dry land eretz — earth 
(1, 10). Why Eretz? Because she conformed (razethah) 
to His will (razori). R. Nathan commented in R. Aha's 
name, and R. Berekiah in R. Isaac's name : I am El Shaddai 
— E.V. 'God Almighty' (Gen. xvn, 1). It was I who said 

two kemazim (pi. of fromez), and Moses and Aaron both took a hofen 
in each hand, = 8 kzma%im in all, and then Moses took it in one handful ; 
v. Ex. R. xr, 5. l I.e. Moses alone. 2 Cf. Lev. vm, 8. 
3 Lit. 'he made them lean' — perhaps it means that he made them stand 
so that one had to press against his neighbour (Th.). 4 Aboth V, 5. 

38 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [V. 8-9 

to the earth, 1 'day' (enough), and to the world 2 'day'. For 
had I not said ' day ' to the heaven and ' day ' to the earth, 
they would have continued to extend even until now. 

And the gathering together of the waters 
called He seas (ib.). Yet surely there is but one sea? 
Why then is it stated And the gathering to- 
gether of the waters called He seas? 3 The 
reason is because the taste of a fish caught at Acco is dis- 
similar from that of one caught at Sidon and Aspamia. 4 

9. And God said: Lettheearth put forth 
grass etc. (1, 11). It was taught in R. Nathan's name: 
Three entered for judgment, yet four came out guilty. 
Adam and Eve and the serpent entered for judgment, 
whereas the earth was punished with them, as it is written, 
Cursed is the ground (Gen. Ill, 17), which means that it 
would produce accursed things for him [Adam], such as 
gnats, insects, and fleas. Then let it produce [pests as 
large as] a camel? 5 Said R. Isaac of Magdala 6 : In that 
there would be benefit too. 7 Now why was [the earth] 
punished? R. Judah b. R. Shalom said: Because she 
disobeyed [God's] command. For the Holy One, blessed 
be He, said thus: Let the earth put forth grass, 
herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing 
fruit: just as the fruit is eaten, so should the tree be 
edible. She, however, did not do thus, but And the 
earth brought forth grass, herb yielding 
seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit 
(1, 12) : the fruit could be eaten but not the tree. R. Phinehas 
said : She exceeded His command, thinking to do the will 

1 Interpreting Shaddai(y) as sha-day, 'who (said) enough.* 

2 'World' will now connote heaven and earth. 

3 The Rabbis held that all seas are connected and therefore one. Or 
possibly they are thinking here simply of the 'Great Sea* (the 
Mediterranean), 

* Acco and Sidon are on the Phoenician coast. Th. conjectures that 
Aspamia refers to Apamea in the north of Palestine; cf. B.B. 74b: the 
sea of Aspamia. 

5 The bracketed addition gives Theodor's explanation of this passage. 

* A town near Tiberias; v.J.E. s.v. 

7 Though a pest, it could be killed and put to use. 

39 



V. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of her Creator: thus And tree bearing fruit 
implies that even non-fruit-bearing trees yielded fruit. 
Now no difficulty arises on R. Judah's view. But on 
R. Phinehas's view, why was she cursed? It is in fact as 
one might say: 'Cursed be the breast that suckled such 
a one as this.' 
And there was evening and there was 

MORNING, A THIRD DAY — SHELISHI (ib. 13) ; i.e. 

the day in which strong ones were created, 1 as you read, 
Captains (shalishim) and councillors, all of them riding 
upon horses (Ezek. xxm, 23). 2 But when iron was created, 
the trees began to tremble. Said He to them, 'Why do 
you tremble? Let none of your wood enter it, and not 
one of you shall be harmed/ 3 

1 I.e. strong and lofty trees. 

2 Thus shalishim means men of strength, transf. captains. 

8 Iron cannot harm the tree unless the tree first furnishes a handle for the 



40 



[VI. i 
Chapter VI (BERESHITH) 

i. And God said: Let there be lights (i, 14). 
R, Johanan began thus: Who appointest the moon for seasons 
(Ps. civ, 19). R. Johanan commented: The orb of the 
sun alone was created to give light. If so, why was the 
moon created? ' For seasons': in order to sanctify new 
moons and years thereby. 1 R. Shila of Kefar Temarta 2 
said in R. Johanan's name: Yet even so, The sun knoweth 
its coming (ib.): from the sun one knows its coming [sc. 
of the month], for we count the beginning of the month 
only from sunset. Justa Habra 3 said in R. Berekiah's name: 
And they journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the 
fifteenth day of the first month, etc. (Num. xxxiii, 3) : but 
if you count by the moon, then so far there were only 
thirteen sunsets? 4 Hence it follows that we count not from 
the moon but from sunset. 

R. 'Azariah said in R. Hanina's name: The orb of the 
sun alone was created to give light ; yet if so, why was the 
moon created? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, fore- 
saw that the peoples of the world would treat them as 
divinities. Said the Lord: 'If they are two, opposed to 
each other, 6 and yet the peoples of the world treat them 

1 The Jewish year is lunar, and the actual fixing of the months and the 
years depends on the moon, though a month is intercalated in leap years 
in order to harmonise the lunar with the solar years. 

2 The townlet of Temarta in Judea; Jrlul. 6za, 

3 Justa is an abbreviation of Justus or Justinus ; Habra (xiin) may 
either be part of the name or mean a haber, an associate, one of a body 
who were particularly scrupulous in their observance of the laws of 
tithes and purity. 

* This is based on the tradition that the Nisan (the first month of the 
Jewish year) in which the Exodus took place fell on a Thursday, while 
the actual New Moon occurred after midday on the preceding Wednes- 
day ; it is further assumed that when this happens the moon is not visible 
until the second evening following, i.e. the evening of Friday. Hence 
if we counted time solely from when the New Moon is visible, then by 
the Thursday on which they left, a fortnight after, there would only 
have been thirteen sunsets. Since, however, it is called the fifteenth 
of the month, we see that the month was calculated from the first sunset 
after the New Moon. 5 The reference is possibly to the eclipse of the 
sun and the moon (commentaries). 

41 



VI. 1-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

as divinities, how much more would they do so if there 
were but one!' R. Berekiah said in R. Simon's name: 
Both were created in order to give light, as it says, And 

LET THEM BE FOR LIGHTS, etc. 

And let them be for signs: this refers to the 
Sabbaths 1 ; And for seasons: to the three pilgrimage 
festivals; And for days: to the beginnings of the 
months; And years means the sanctification of the 
years. 2 

2. And God made the two great lights (i, 16). 
It is written, Thine is the day, Thine also the night (Ps. 
lxxiv, 1 6): to. Thee the day gives praise, to Thee the night 
gives praise. Just as the day is under Thy control, so is 
the night under Thy control When Thou performest 
miracles for us by day, ' Thine is the day ' ; and when Thou 
performest miracles for us by night, ' Thine also is the 
night/ When Thou performest miracles for us by day, we 
utter song to Thee by day; and when Thou performest 
miracles for us by night, we utter song to Thee by night. 
Thou didst perform miracles for us by day, and we uttered 
song to Thee by day, thus : Then sang Deborah and Barak 
the son of Abinoam on that day (Judg. v, i). Thou didst 
perform miracles for us by night, and we uttered song 
to Thee by night : Ye shall have a song as in the night when 
a feast is hallowed (Isa. xxx, 29). To Thee it is becoming 
to utter song by day and by night; wherefore? because 
Thou hast established luminary and sun (Ps. loc. cit.), and 
Thou hast made The two great lights. 

3. R. Tanhum and R. Phinehas in R. Simon's name 
said : After calling them great, He actually casts a 
slur [on one by writing] The great light . . . and 
the small light (i, 16)! The reason is because it 
penetrated into its neighbour's territory. 8 R. Phinehas said: 

1 Cf. Ex. xxxi, 17, where the Sabbath is called a sign. 

2 I.e. the proclamation of the New Year by the proper authorities. 

3 The moon is sometimes seen by day too, and thus encroaches, as it 
were, upon the domain of the sun. 

42 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VI. 3-4 

In respect of all other sacrifices it is written, And one he- 
goat for a sin-offering?- whereas in respect of New Moon 
it is written, And one he-goat for a sin-offering for the Lord 
(Num. xxviii, 15): The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 
'It was I who caused it to enter its neighbour's domain.' 2 
Then if that [sc. the moon] which entered with permission 
was thus disparaged by Holy Writ, think how much more 
one is deserving of this who enters without permission ! 

R. Levi said in the name of R. Jose b. Lai: It is but 
natural that the great should count by the great, and the 
small by the small. Esau 3 counts [time] by the sun, which 
is large, and Jacob by the moon, which is small. Said 
R. Nahman: That is a happy augury. Esau counts by 
the sun, which is large : just as the sun rules by day but 
not by night, so does Esau enjoy this world, but has nought 
in the World to Come. Jacob counts by the moon, which 
is small: just as the moon rules by day and by night, so 
has Jacob a portion in this world and in the World to Come. 
R. Nahman made another observation, thus: R. Nahman 
said : As long as the light of the greater luminary functions, 
the light of the smaller one is not noticeable, but when 
the light of the greater one sets, the light of the smaller 
one becomes noticeable; even so, as long as the light of 
Esau prevails, the light of Jacob cannot be distinguished ; 
but when the light of Esau sets, that of Jacob shall be 
distinguished, as it is written, Arise, shine, . . . For, 
behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness 
the peoples, but upon thee the Lord will arise, and His glory 
shall be seen upon thee (Isa. LX, i f). 

4. And the stars (i, 16). R. Aha said: Imagine a 
king who had two governors, one ruling in the city and 
the other in a province. Said the king: 'Since the former 
has humbled himself to rule in the city only, I decree 
that whenever he goes out, the city council and the people 
shall go out with him, and whenever he enters, the city 



1 Num. xxviii, zz; xxix, 5, 11, passim. 

8 Therefore I need a sin-offering; cf. fttal. 606. 3 I.e. Rome. 

43 



VI. 4-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

council and the people shall enter with him/ Thus did 
the Holy One, blessed be He, say : 'Since the moon 
humbled itself to rule by night, I decree that when she 
comes forth, the stars shall come forth with her, and 
when she goes in [disappears], the stars shall go in with 
her/ Similarly we read, And his brother's name was Joktan — 
lit. 'he shall be small' (Gen. x, 25). R. Aha said: Why 
was he called Joktan? Because he humbled himself. What 
did he earn thereby? 1 He was privileged to beget thirteen 
families. 2 Now if this is so with the younger, 3 then when 
a great man is content with a humble position, how much 
the more so. Similarly, And Israel stretched out his right 
hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger 
(ib. xlviii, 14). Said R. IJunia: Do we not know from the 
birth records that he was the younger ! But younger (zaHr) 
means that he reduced (meza'ir) himself. What did he earn 
thereby? He attained the birthright. Then if a great man 
contents himself with a humble position, how much the 
more [is he rewarded]. 

5. And God set them in the firmament of the 
heaven (1, 17). R. Jonathan said: Three things were 
given as a gift to the world, viz., the Torah, the luminaries, 
and rain. Whence do we know it of the Torah? And He 
gave unto Moses . . . the two tables of testimony (Ex. xxxi, 
18). The luminaries? And God gave (E.V. 'set') 
them, etc. Rain? Then I will give you rains (Lev. xxvi, 4). 
R. 'Azariah said in the name of R. Judah b. R. Simon: 
Peace, too, as it says, And I will give peace (ib. 6). R. Joshua 
b. R. Nehemiah said : Salvation too : Thou hast also given 
me the shield of Thy salvation (11 Sam. xxn, 36). R. Tan- 
huma said : Eretz Israel too : And He gave them the lands 
of the nations (Ps. cv, 44). Some say, vengeance too, as 
it says, And I will give My vengeance upon Edom, etc. 
(Ezek. xxv, 14). Our Rabbis say: Compassion too: He gave 
them also to be pitied (Ps. cvi, 46)* R. Isaac b. Marion said: 

1 Zakah denotes *to attain a privilege through merit'. 

* He had thirteen children, who each produced a family (ib t 26-9). 

8 Joktan was Peleg's younger brother. 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VI. 5-6 

The crossing of the Great Sea too: Thus saith the Lord, 
who giveth a way in the sea (Isa. xliii, 16) — from Pentecost 
until the Festival [sc. Tabernacles]; And a path in the 
mighty waters — from the Festival until Hanukkah. 1 

R. Cohen, the brother of R. Hiyya b. Abba, was setting 
out on a sea voyage. 'Pray for me/ he asked his brother. 
'Why should we pray for you/ replied he: 'where you 
bind up your palm branch, bind your foot. 2 If you enter 
the synagogue and hear [the congregation] praying for 
rain, do not rely upon my prayers/ 3 R. Joshua b. Tanhum 
b. R. IJiyya of Kefar Hagin was in Asia Minor 4 and wished 
to make a sea journey. Said a [Roman] matron to him: 
'I am astonished that one should set out at this time of 
the year/ His father appeared to him in a dream [and 
admonished him]: 'My son! [would you die] without 
burial, [thus fulfilling the verse] And moreover he have no 
burial* (Eccl. vi, 3)? But he paid no heed to the words 
of either, and that [fate] did befall him. 

6. Where are the spheres of the sun and the moon set? 
In the second heaven (raki'a), 5 as it says, And God 

SET THEM IN THE RAKl'A OF THE HEAVEN. R. 

Phinehas said in R. Abbahu's name: This verse is explicit, 
and the men of the Great Assembly 6 further explained, 
Thou art the Lord, even Thou alone; Thou hast made the 
heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host (Neh. ix, 
6) : thus where are all their hosts set? In the second 'raki'a*, 
which is above the heaven. 7 From the earth to the 'raki'a' 



1 The Feast of Lights, v. Shab. 22b ; i.e. from about the middle of October 
to the end of December, when the seas show their 'might', being storm- 
swept. That one is able to travel at all then by sea is a gift of God. 

2 I.e. do not travel after Tabernacles, as the sea is dangerous then. 

8 I can pray for your safety, but my prayers are submerged by those of 
the whole congregation, as rain naturally increases the dangers of sea 
travel. * Or perhaps, Essa, east of the lake of Tiberias. 

6 The Rabbis believed that there were seven heavens, the name of the 
second being raki'a (firmament); v. Hag. 126. 

e An institution consisting of 80 or 120 men (the sources vary) said to 
have been founded by Ezra. 

7 This is the meaning attached to The heaven of heavens, heaven itself 
meaning the first one. 

45 



VI, 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

is a five hundred years' journey, and the thickness of the 
'raki'a' is a five hundred years' journey, 1 and from the 
first 'raki'a' to the next 'raki'a' is a five hundred years' 
journey: see then how high it is! Again, it was taught: 
On the first day of the cycle of Tammuz [i.e. summer] 
no creature has a shadow, 2 for it is written, And there is 
nothing hid from His sun (Ps. xix, 7). 3 The globe of the 
sun has a sheath. What is the proof? In them hath He set 
a tent [protective covering] for the sun (ib. 5) ; and a lake 
of water stands before it, 4 and when it goes forth, the Holy 
One, blessed be He, tempers its strength in the water, 
lest it go forth and burn up the world. But in the future 
the Lord will bare it from its sheath and burn it up. 5 
What is the proof? And the day that cometh shall set them 
ablaze (Mai. in, 19). R. Jannai and R. Simeon b. Lakish 
said: There is no other Gehenna [in the future] save a day 6 
which will burn up the wicked. What is the proof? For, 
behold, a day cometh, it burneth as a furnace (ib.). Our 
Rabbis maintain : There will be a Gehenna, for it is said, 
Whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem (Isa. 
xxxi, 9). R. Judah b. R. Ila'i said: There will be neither 
a day nor a Gehenna, but a fire shall come forth from the 
bodies of the wicked themselves and burn them up. What 
is the proof? Ye conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble, 
your breath is a fire that shall devour you (ib, xxxm, n). 
R. Joshua b. R. Bun quoted: The heavens declare His 
righteousness (Ps. L, 6): in the future the heavens will 
declare the righteousness [kindness] which the Lord did 
for His world in not setting them in the first 4 raki'a*, for 
had He set them in the first 'raki'a', no creature could 
have endured, on account of the burning heat of the day. 

7. R. Levi said: The voice of three things travels from 
one end of the world to the othei , yet no creature hears it, 
viz., the day [i.e. the sun], the rain, and the soul when 

1 Pes. 946; cf. supra, iv, 5. 2 The sun being directly overhead. 
s E.V. from the heat thereof, 4 Cf. supra, iv, 5. 
5 Sc. the world — of the wicked. Cur. edd.: and burn the wicked with it. 
• Le. the sun (Man., <EJ.). 

46 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VI. 7-9 

it departs [from the body]. 1 Whence do we know it of the 
day? Said R. Judah b. R. La'i: You may think that it 
glides in heaven, but it is not so, being rather like a saw 
which saws through wood. 2 Whence do we know it of 
the rain? Said R. Levi: It is written, Deep calleth unto 
deep at the voice of Thy cataracts (Ps. xlii, 8). And whence 
do we know it of the soul ? From the story of R. Samuel, 
the brother of R. Phinehas b. Hama. He [R. Samuel] 
was a poor man and died in Sepphoris. 3 Now his colleagues 
were sitting with him [R. Phinehas], when something 
[ludicrous] happened and they began to laugh. Said 
[R. Phinehas] to them: 'How unhappy is the soul of that 
man's brother! 4 it breaks down cedars, it breaks down 
oaks, 5 yet you sit here and do not know!' 

8. How do the orbs of the sun and the moon set? R. 
Judah b. R. La'i and the Rabbis disagree. R. Judah said: 
Behind the vault 6 and above it. The Rabbis maintained: 
Behind the vault and below it. R. Jonathan said: The 
view of R. Judah b. R. La'i that it is behind the vault and 
above it is preferable in respect of summer, when the 
whole world is hot while the wells are cold; and the 
opinion of the Rabbis that it is behind the vault and 
below appears correct in respect of winter, when the whole 
world is cold and the wells are tepid. R. Simeon b. Yohai 
said: We do not know whether they fly through the air, 7 
glide in the heaven, or travel in their usual manner. 8 It 
is an exceedingly difficult matter, and no person can 
fathom it. 

9. And to rule over the day and the night 
(1, 18). R. Hilpa said: If that is [written] in respect of 
the luminaries, it has surely already been stated, ' The 

1 Cf. Ex. R.V. 9; Yoma 206. 

2 It must for ce its way through heaven, and makes a sound as it does so. 
* In Upper Galilee. 

4 By 'that man' he meant himself, this being a common form of speech. 
8 The cry of the departing soul is so strong that it overthrows strong 
trees. 6 The vault or arch of heaven, conceived as solid. 
7 Without a sphere (Th.). 8 With an effort (Th.), 

47 



VI. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

greater luminary to rule by day/ etc. Then what is taught 
by And to rule over the day and the night? 
It refers to the righteous, who have power over what was 
created to give light by day and what was created to give 
light by night, as it is written, And the sun stood still, and 
the moon stayed . . . Is not this written in the book of Jashar? 
(Josh, x, 13). What is this allusion to the book of Jashar? 1 
R. Irlilpa referred it to this: And to rule over the 
day and the night. R. Hanin in the name of R. 
Samuel b. Isaac referred it to the latter portion of the 
Book, viz. Howbeit his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be 
greater than he [Manasseh], and his seed shall become the 
fulness of nations (Gen. xlviii, 19). Now is that actually 
possible? Hence this must refer to Joshua who would 
spring from him and stay the sun and the moon, which 
rule from one end of the world to the other. 2 R. Jrlanin 
in the name of R. Samuel referred it to the end of the 
Torah [i.e. Deuteronomy]: His firstling bullock, majesty 
is his; and his horns are the horns of the wild ox, with them 
he shall gore the peoples all of them, even the ends of the earth 
(Deut. xxxiii, 17). Is that actually possible? Hence it refers 
to Joshua who would spring from him [Joseph], and stay 
the sun and the moon, which rule from one end of the 
world to the other. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The Book 
of Deuteronomy was an ensign for Joshua. 3 When the 
Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself to him, He 
found him sitting with the Book of Deuteronomy in his 
hand. Said He to him, 'Be strong, Joshua, be of good 
courage, Joshua, This book of the law shall not depart out 
of thy mouth' (Josh. 1, 8). Thereupon he took it and showed 
it to the orb of the sun which he apostrophised thus : ' Even 

1 There are two views as to what is meant by the term: R. Hilpa and 

R. Hanin (in the first version) hold that it is the Book of Genesis, while 

R. Hanin (in the second version) holds that it means Deuteronomy; 

v. 'A.Z. z$a. 

* The descendants of one man could not possibly become the fulness of 

nations (lit. translation), and therefore the verse is interpreted as alluding 

to Joshua, who stayed the sun which 'rules' (i.e. serves) the fulness of 

nations — the whole world. 

8 He used it as a commander uses his ensign, to enforce obedience. 

48 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VI. 9 

as I have not stood still from [studying] this, so do thou 
stand still before me I ' Straightway, ' And the sun stood still, ' 
etc. R. Isaac said: [He exclaimed to it], 'Thou evil servant, 
wert thou not indeed the chattel of my ancestor; did not 
my ancestor see thee thus in a dream: And, behold, the 
sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me * (Gen. 
xxxvii, 9) I 1 Straightway, 'And the sun stood still, 1 etc. 

1 This passage is extremely difficult. Y.M. explains it by reference to 
Tanhuma: Joshua said to it: Cannot a young man command his aged 
slave, ' Be silent ! ' And did not Abraham acquire you (Abraham was of 
course 'young' i n comparison with the sun), as it says, Blessed be 
Abraham of God most High, who possesses (lit. translation, and making 
who refer to Abraham) heaven and earth (Gen. xiv, 19). Moreover, you 
ratified this purchase by bowing down to Joseph, his descendant. 



49 



VII. 1-2] 

Chapter VII (BERESHITH) 
i. And God said: Let the waters swarm 

WITH SWARMS OF LIVING CREATURES (l, 20). It IS 

written, There is none like unto Thee among the gods, O Lord, 
and there are no works like Thine (Ps. lxxxvi, 8). In human 
practice a mortal king draws a figure on dry land, but 
the Holy One, blessed be He, draws figures in water, as 
it is said, And God said: Let the waters swarm. 

2. Let the waters swarm, etc. Jacob of Kefar 
Nibburaya 1 gave a ruling in Tyre that fish must be ritually 
slaughtered. 2 When R. Haggai heard thereof he ordered, 
'Come and be flagellated/ 3 'What!' exclaimed he, 'when 
a man gives a Scriptural ruling he is to be flagellated!' 
'How do you know that this is Scriptural?' inquired he. 
'Because it is written, Let the waters swarm with 
swarms of living creatures, and let fowl 
fly, etc./ replied he: 'just as a bird must be ritually 
killed, so must fish be ritually killed.' 'You have not 
ruled well,' said he to him. 'And whence can you prove 
this to me?' he asked. 'Lie down [to be lashed] and I will 
prove it to you/ Said he to him: 'It is written, If flocks 
and herds be slain for them> will they suffice them? or if all 
the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, will they 
suffice them? (Num. xi, 22) ; "shall be slain" is not written 
here but " be gathered together".' 'Lay on me/ exclaimed 
he, 4 'for thine exposition is good.' 

Jacob of Kefar Nibburaya ruled in Tyre : It is permitted 
to circumcise the infant son of a Gentile woman 5 on the 
Sabbath. When R. Haggai heard this he said to him, ' Come 
and be flagellated.' 'Shall he who states a Scriptural ruling 
be punished ! ' exclaimed he. 'And how is this Scriptural ? ' 
'Because it is written, And they declared their pedigrees 
after their families y by their fathers' houses' (Num. 1, 18), 

1 Prob. Nimrin, near Tiberias (Jast.). a Before they are fit for food. 
3 For this ruling. 4 Jacob of Kefar Nibburaya. s Born from a Jew. 

SO 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VII. 2-4 

he answered. 1 'You have not ruled well/ said he to him. 
'And whence can you prove this to me?' 'Lie down and 
I will prove it to you/ he retorted. 'It is written, Now 
therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away 
all the wives, and such as are born of them' (Ezra x, 3). 2 
'And will you actually punish me on the strength of tradi- 
tion!' 3 he protested. And let it he done according to the 
Torah' (#.), quoted he. 4 Said he: 'Hammer away thy 
hammering 5 [i.e. strike me], for it is well taught/ 

3. And let fowl fly above the earth. In 
ordinary practice a mortal king builds a palace and tenants 
the upper and the lower stories, but can he tenant the ' 
space between? Surely not! But the Holy One, blessed 
be He, placed denizens in the space between, as it is said, 
And let fowl fly above the earth. 

4. And God created the great sea-monsters 
— taninim (1, 21). R. Phinehas said in R. Idi's name: 
Taninam* is written, referring to Behemoth and Leviathan, 7 
which have no mates. Resh Lakish said: Behemoth has a 
mate, but it has no desire, for it is said, The sinews of 
his thighs are knit together (Job XL, 17). 8 

R. Huna said in the name of R. Mattenah : The Zabua 9 
is formed from a white drop; it contains three hundred 
and sixty-five different colours, as the days of the sun. 

R. Jeremiah said: (R.) Kahana asked R. Simeon b. 



1 Thus he argued that the child follows his father, and was therefore like 

any other Jewish child, who is circumcised on the Sabbath if it is the 

eighth day from birth. 

8 Thus the children of mixed marriages follow their mothers, not their 

fathers. 3 The Prophets and the Hagiographa are thus termed. 

4 I.e. this law is affirmed to be Pentateuchal. There may be a reference 

here to Deut. vn, 4, as interpreted in Kid. 686, q.v. For he will turn away 

thy son from follozoing Me. 

6 Or (Rashi): pave thy paving, i.e. lie down (spoken by R. Haggai). 

6 Di^n, i.e. singular. 

7 Legendary sea-animals reserved for the righteous in the Messianic 
future. 

8 Perhaps he translates : are torn out — he lacks the organs of generation. 

9 ' Coloured ' (animal) ; the leopard, or perhaps the striped hyaena. 

5* 



VII. 4~5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Lakish: 'What if one crosses different sea species?' 1 'In 
their case, too, After their kind is written/ 2 he 
answered. With this the son of Lakish spread his net over 
(R.) Kahana. 3 Kahana, however, refuted him: 'Yet in the 
case of fish, too, After their kind is written/ 4 
With this Kahana spread his net over the son of Lakish. 
Now how is it to be explained? 5 Said R. Judah: I can 
apply it [sc. 'after their kind 3 ] to the prohibition of driving: 
he brings two fish, one white and the other black, ties 
them with a reed rope and pulls them, for we learned: 
You may not plough with, pull, or drive them. 8 

And every living creature that creepeth . . . 
and every winged fowl: This is the peacock. 7 

5. And God said: Let the earth bring forth 
the living creature, etc. (i, 24). R. Leazar said: 
Living creature means the soul of Adam. 8 

And God made the beast of the earth (i, 25). 
R. Hoshaya the Elder said: This means the serpent. 
R. llama b. R. Hoshaya said: In speaking of souls it 
enumerates four, but in speaking of bodies only three! 9 
Rabbi said: This [extra soul] refers to the demons whose 
soul the Holy One, blessed be He, created, but when 
He came to create their bodies the sanctity of the Sabbath 
commenced and He could not create them. 10 This gives 

1 Mammals are meant, not fish. Does that come under the prohibition 
of Lev. xix, 19 (q.v.)? 

2 Each must breed with its own kind only: hence he has transgressed. 

3 Showed him deficient in knowledge. 

4 Though it is impossible to make fish copulate, owing to their inaccessi- 
bility. Hence 'after their kind' cannot bear this meaning at all. 

5 According to Resh Lakish. 

8 Sc. two different kinds of fish together; Kil. vm, 2. 

7 Which, being a multicoloured bird, contains the hues of every winged 
fowl, i.e. all birds. 8 Infra, vm, 1. 

9 1, 24, says : Let the earth bring forth the soul (sic) of a living creature 
after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the earth: 
thus living creature (hayyah), cattle, creeping thing, and beast of the earth 
are enumerated — four in all. Whereas 1,25, referring to the actual animals 
(' bodies ') states : And God made the beast of the earth . . . and the cattle 
. . . and everything that creepeth — only three being enumerated. 

10 Hence they remained souls (spirits) without bodies. 

5* 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VII. 5 

you a lesson in behaviour from Scripture, viz., that if a 
man is holding in his hand a costly article or a precious 
stone on the eve of the Sabbath about sunset, we say to 
him, 'Throw it away/ for He at whose behest the world 
came into existence 1 was engaged in the creation of the 
world and had [already] created their souls, but when 
He came to create their bodies the holiness of the Sabbath 
commenced and He did not create them. 

1 Lit. 'who ordained and the world', etc., a phrase which is now 
liturgical. 



53 



VIII. i] 

Chapter VIII (BERESHITH) 

i. And God said: Let us make man, etc. (i, 26). 
R. Johanan commenced [his discourse]: Thou hast formed 
me 1 behind and before, etc. (Ps. cxxxix, 5). Said R. Johanan: 
If a man is worthy enough, he enjoys both worlds, for it 
says, ' Thou hast formed me for a later [world] and an earlier 
[world]/ But if not, he will have to render a full account 
[of his misdeeds], as it is said, And laid Thy hand upon me 
\ib.). R. Jeremiah b. Leazar said: When the Holy One, 
blessed be He, created Adam, He created him an herma- 
phrodite [bi-sexual], 2 for it is said, Male and female created 
He them and called their name Adam (Gen. v, 2). 3 R. Samuel 
b. Nahman said : When the Lord created Adam He created 
him double-faced, then He split him and made him of 
two backs, one back on this side and one back on the 
other side. To this it is objected: But it is written, And 
He took one of his ribs, etc. (Gen. 11, 21) ? 4 [Mi-zalothaw 
means] one of his sides, replied he, as you read, And for 
the second side (zela') of the tabernacle, etc. (Ex. xxvi, 20). 
R. Tanhuma in the name of R. Banayah and R. Berekiah 
in the name of R. Leazar said : He created him as a lifeless 
mass extending from one end of the world to the other; 
thus it is written, Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance 
(Ps. cxxxix, 16). R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah and R. Judah 
b. R. Simon in R. Leazar's name said: He created him 
filling the whole world. How do we know [that he stretched] 
from east to west? Because it is said, ' Thou hast formed 
me behind (ahor) and before (kedem)/ 6 From north to 
south? Because it says, Since the day that God created 
man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto 

1 E.V. * hemmed me in.' Here zartani is derived from zurah, a figure: 
'Thou hast made me into a figure.' 

2 Normally androgynos means one whose genitals are male and female ; 
but here it means two bodies, male and female, joined together. 

8 Thus Adam himself was originally male and female. 

4 This certainly implies that woman was a separate creation. 

5 Now \edem can mean east, as in Gen. in, 24 q.v. ; hence ahor, which is 
obviously the opposite, means west. 

54 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VIII. 1-2 

the other (Deut. iv, 32). And how do we know that he filled 
the empty spaces of the world P 1 From the verse, 'And laid 
Thy hand upon me' (as you read, Withdraw Thy hand from 
me (Job xin, 21)). 2 R. Leazar interpreted it: He was the 
latest (ahor) in the work of the last day, and the earliest 
(kedem) in the work of the last day. 3 That is R. Leazar's 
view, for he said : Let the earth bring forth a soul of a living 
creature (Gen. 1, 24) refers to the soul of Adam. 4 R. Simeon 
b. Lakish maintained: He was the latest in the work of 
the last day and the earliest in the work of the first day. 
That is consistent with the view of R. Simeon b. Lakish, 
for he said: And the spirit of God hovered (ib. I, 2) refers 
to the soul of Adam, as you read, And the spirit of the 
Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). R. Nahman said: 
Last in creation and first in punishment. 5 R. Samuel b. 
R. Tanhum said: His praise [of God], too, comes only at 
the last, as it is written, Hallelujah. Praise ye the Lord 
from the heavens, the passage continuing until, He hath 
made a decree which shall not be transgressed. This is followed 
by, Praise ye the Lord from the earth, etc., and only after 
all that, Kings of the earth and all peoples (Ps. cxlviii, 1-11). 
R. Simlai said : Just as his praise comes after that of cattle, 
beasts, and fowls, so does his creation come after that of 
cattle, beasts, and fowl. First we have 'And God said: Let 
the waters swarm\ and after them all, Let us make man. 

2. R. Hama b. R. Hanina commenced: Knowest thou this 
of old time, since man was placed upon earth (Job xx, 4). 

1 From the ground to the sky. 

2 Th. brackets this quotation, as its relevance is doubtful and it is absent 
in some versions. The proof lies in the first verse alone, Adam being 
pictured as lying upon the ground while God lays His hand, which is in 
heaven, upon him. Another explanation is that kappeka (E.V. * Thy hand') 
is now derived from kippah, the arch of heaven. 

3 His body was the latest, but he received his soul before anything else 
which was made on the sixth day. 

4 The verse refers to the sixth day, and this was the earliest work of that 
day, as it is followed by, And God made the beast of the earth, etc. 

5 Either, the first to receive an injunction whose violation was punished. 
Or, as in Ber. 61 a, the first who was destroyed in the Flood (before the 
beasts). 

55 



VIII. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Said R. tjama b. R. yanina: This may be compared to 
a country which received its supplies from ass-drivers, 
who used to ask each other, 'What was the market price 
to-day ? ' Thus those who supplied on the sixth day would 
ask of those who supplied on the fifth day; the fifth of 
the fourth, the fourth of the third, the third of the second, 
the second of the first; but of whom was the first day 
supplier to ask ? Surely of the citizens who were engaged 
in the public affairs of the country! Thus the works of each 
day asked one another, ' Which creatures did the Holy One, 
blessed be He, create among you to-day ? ' The sixth asked 
of the fifth, the fifth of the fourth, the fourth of the third, 
the third of the second, and the second of the first. Of 
what was the first to ask? Surely of the Torah, which 
preceded the creation of the world by two thousand years, 
as it is written, Then I [sc. the Torah] was by Him, as a 
nursling, and I was His delight day after day (Prov. vin, 30) ; 
now the day of the Lord is a thousand years, as it is said, 
For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when 
it is past (Ps. xc, 4). That is the meaning of ' Knowest thou 
this of old time? ' The Torah knows what was before the 
creation of the world, but you have no business to inquire 
about aught save ' Since man was placed upon earth\ R. 
Leazar said in Bar Sira's name: About what is too great 
for thee inquire not; what is too hard for thee investigate 
not; about what is too wonderful for thee know not; 
of what is hidden from thee ask not; study what was 
permitted thee: thou hast no business with hidden things. 

3. And God said: Let us make man, etc. With 
whom did He take counsel? 1 R. Joshua b. Levi said: He 
took counsel with the works of heaven and earth, like a 
king who had two advisers without whose knowledge 2 he 
did nothing whatsoever. R. Samuel b. Nahman said: He 
took counsel with the works of each day, like a king who 
had an associate without whose knowledge he did nothing. 

1 This question arises because of the phrase Let US make. 
8 The Hebrew implies knowledge and consent. 

56 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VIII. 3-4 

R. Ammi said: He took counsel with His own heart. It 
may be compared to a king who had a palace built by an 
architect, but when he saw it it did not please him: with 
whom is he to be indignant? surely with the architect! 
Similarly, And it grieved Him at His heart (Gen. vi, 6). 
R. Jassi said: This may be compared to a king who did 
some business through an agent and suffered loss: with 
whom is he to be indignant? Surely with the agent! 
Similarly, 'And it grieved Him at His heart/ 

4. R. Berekiah said : When the Holy One, blessed be He, 
came to create Adam, He saw righteous and wicked arising 
from him. Said He: 'If I create him, wicked men will 
spring from him; if I do not create him, how are the 
righteous to spring from him?' What then did the Lord 
do ? He removed the way of the wicked out of His sight 1 
and associated the quality of mercy 2 with Himself and 
created him, as it is written, For the Lord regardeih the 
way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked tobed — 
E.V. 'shall perish" (Ps. I, 6): what does 'tobed' mean? 
He destroyed it (ibbedah) from before His sight and asso- 
ciated the quality of mercy with Himself and created him. 
R. Hanina did not say thus, but [he said that] when He 
came to create Adam He took counsel with the ministering 
angels, saying to them, 'Let us make man/ 'What 
shall his character be?' asked they. 'Righteous men shall 
spring from him/ He answered, as it is written, 'For the 
Lord knoweth (yodea') the way of the righteous,' which means 
that the Lord made known (hodia') the way of the righteous 
to the ministering angels; 'But the way of the wicked shall 
perish': He destroyed [hid] it from them. He revealed to 
them that the righteous would arise from him, but He 
did not reveal to them that the wicked would spring from 
him, for had He revealed to them that the wicked would 
spring from him; the quality of Justice would not have 
permitted him to be created. 

1 He deliberately disregarded it. * This is often hypostatised. 

57 



VIII. 5~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

5. R. Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, 
came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed 
themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, 
'Let him be created/ whilst others urged, 'Let him not 
be created/ Thus it is written, Love and Truth fought 
together, Righteousness and Peace combated each other (Ps. 
lxxxv, n) 1 : Love said, 'Let him be created, because he 
will dispense acts of love'; Truth said, 'Let him not be 
created, because he is compounded of falsehood' ; Righteous- 
ness said, 'Let him be created, because he will perform 
righteous deeds'; Peace said, 'Let him not be created, 
because he is full of strife.' What did the Lord do? He 
took Truth and cast it to the ground. Said the ministering 
angels before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign 
of the Universe ! Why dost Thou despise Thy seal ? 2 Let 
Truth arise from the earth!' Hence it is written, Let truth 
spring up from the earth (ih. 12). 

All our Rabbis say the following in the name of R. 
Hanina, while R. Phinehas and R. Hilkiah say it in the 
name of R. Simon: Me'od (E.V. 'very') is identical with 
Adam 3 ; as it is written, And God saw everything that He 
had made, and, behold, it was good — me'od (Gen. 1, 31), 
i.e. and behold Adam was good. R. Huna the Elder of 
Sepphoris, said : While the ministering angels were arguing 
with each other and disputing with each other, the Holy 
One, blessed be He, created him. Said He to them: 'What 
can ye avail? Man has already been made! 14 

6. R. Huna said in R. Aibu's name: He created him 
with due deliberation: He first created his food require- 
ments, and only then did He create him. Said the ministering 
angels to the Lord: 'Sovereign of the Universe! What is 
man, that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, 

1 E.V. 'Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have 
kissed each other.' The Midrash interprets met in the sense of fought, 
and derives nashaku (kissed) from nesheh, arms, rendering: have taken 
arms against each other. 2 Truth is the seal of God. 
3 In the Hebrew the letters are the same, though differently arranged: 
dw, 1KB. * On this interpretation ne'esah (is made) is read instead 

of na aseh (we will make). 

58 



GENESIS (bereshith) [VIII. 6-8 

that Thou thinkest of him? (Ps. viii, 5). This trouble, for 
what has it been created?' 'If so/ said He to them, 'Sheep 
and oxen, all of them (ib. 8), why were they created ; why 
were The fowl of the air and the fish of the sea (ih. 9) created ? 
A tower full of good things and no guests — what pleasure 
has its owner in having filled it?' Said they to Him: 
' Sovereign of the Universe ! O Lord, our Lord, how glorious 
is Thy name in all the earth (ib. 10). Do what pleaseth 
Thee!' 

7. R. Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi's name : He took 
counsel with the souls of the righteous, as it is written, 
These were the makers [E.V. 'potters'], and those. that dwelt 
among plantations and hedges; there they dwelt with the 
king in his work (1 Chron. iv, 23). ' These were the makers' 1 
they are so termed on account of the verse, Then the Lord 
formed [made] man, etc. (Gen. 11, 7) ; 'And those that dwelt 
among plantations* corresponds to And the Lord God planted 
a garden eastward (ib. 8); 'And hedges' corresponds to 
/ have placed the sand for the bound of the sea (Jer. v, 22) ; 
' There they dwelt with the king in his work ' : with the 
supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, 
sat the souls of the righteous with whom He took counsel 
before creating the world. 

8. R. Samuel b. Nahman said in R. Jonathan's name: 
When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had 
to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, 
And God said: Let us make man, etc., he said: 
'Sovereign of the Universe! Why dost Thou furnish an 
excuse to heretics?' 1 'Write,' replied He; 'whoever wishes 
to err may err.' 'Moses,' said the Lord to him, 'this man 
that I have created — do I not cause men both great and 
small to spring from him? Now if a great man comes to 
obtain permission [for a proposed action] from one that 
is less than he, he may say, " Why should I ask permission 
from my inferior!" Then they will answer him, "Learn 

1 For maintaining a plurality of gods. 

59 



VIII. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

from thy Creator, who created all that is above and below, 
yet when He came to create man He took counsel with 
the ministering angels/" 

R. Hila 1 said: There is no taking counsel here, but it 
may be compared to a king who was strolling at the door 
of his palace when he saw a clod lying about. Said he, 
'What shall we do with it?' Some answered: '[Use it in 
building] public baths'; others answered: 'private baths.' 
'I will make a statue of it,' declared the king. Who then 
can hinder him? 

9. The heretics asked R. Simlai: 'How many deities 
created the world?' 'I and you must inquire of the first 
day,' replied he, as it is written, For ask now of the first 
days (Deut. iv, 32). Not, 'Since the day gods created (baru) 
man' is written here, but God created — bara (ib.). 2 Then 
they asked him a second time: 'Why is it written, In the 
beginning Elohim [plural] created?' 'In the beginning baru 
Elohim is not written here,' answered he, 'but Bara Elohim 
the heaven and the earth J 

R. Simlai said: Wherever you find a point [apparently] 
supporting the heretics, you find the refutation at its side. 
They asked him again: 'What is meant by, And God 
said: Let us make man?' 'Read what follows,' replied 
he: 'not, "And gods created (wa-yibre'u) man" is written 
here, but "And God created — wa-yibra" ' (Gen. 1, 27). When 
they went out his disciples said to him: 'Them you have 
dismissed with a mere makeshift, but how will you answer 
us?' Said he to them: 'In the past Adam was created 
from dust and Eve was created from Adam ; but henceforth 
it shall be In our image, after our likeness (ib. 26) ; neither 
man without woman nor woman without man, and neither 
of them without the Divine Spirit.' 3 

1 So Theodor. 

2 Elohim is plural inform, but bara is singular, bare'u being plural. Thus 
he answered that the verb is in the singular, so that the plural form of 
Elohim is merely the plural of majesty. Similarly in the whole passage. 

3 He interprets the verse : man has already been made (cf . supra, 5 ad fin .), 
and his seed shall henceforth be in our image, etc., as explained in the 
text. 

60 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VIII. IO-II 

10. R. Hoshaya said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, 
created Adam, the ministering angels mistook him [for a 
divine being] and wished to exclaim 'Holy' before him. 
What does this resemble? A king and a governor who sat 
in a chariot, and his subjects wished to say to the king, 
'Domine! (Sovereign)!' but they did not know which it 
was. What did the king do? He pushed the governor out 
of the chariot, and so they knew who was the king. 
Similarly, when the Lord created Adam, the angels mistook 
him [for a divine being]. What did the Holy One, blessed 
be He, do? He caused sleep to fall upon him, and so all 
knew that he was [but mortal] man; thus it is written, 
Cease ye from man, in whose nostrils is a breath, for how little 
is he to be accounted (Isa. n, 22)! 

11. Male and female (nekebah) created He 
them (1, 27). This is one of the things which they altered 
for King Ptolemy 1 : 'Male with his apertures (nekubaw) 
created He them.' 2 

R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah said in the name of R. 
Hanina b. R. Isaac, and the Rabbis in the name of R. 
Leazar said: He created him with four attributes of the 
higher beings [i.e. angels] and four attributes of the lower 
beings [i.e. beasts]. 3 [The four attributes of] the higher 
beings are: he stands upright, like the ministering angels; 
he speaks, like the ministering angels; he understands, 
like the ministering angels ; and he sees, like the ministering 
angels. Yet does not a dumb animal see ! But this one [man] 
can see from the side. 4 He has four attributes of the lower 
beings: he eats and drinks, like an animal; procreates, 
like an animal; excretes, like an animal; and dies, like an 
animal. R. Tifdai 5 said in R. Aha's name: The celestial 

1 King Ptolemy II Philadelphia, at whose command the Septuagint is 
said to have been produced, is probably meant here. 

2 This change is to explain the plural 'them' (v. supra, 1), or (since he 
was created in God's image), to avoid the implication that God is male 
and female. 

8 Lit. ' He created in him four creations from above and four from below/ 
* He can direct his gaze at an object sideways, without turning his head, 
which an animal cannot do . 5 He is mentioned only here and infra, xiv, 3 . 

6l 



VIII. 11-12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

beings were created in the image and likeness [of God] 
and do not procreate, 1 while the terrestial creatures [dumb 
animals] procreate but were not created in [His] image 
and likeness. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Behold, 
I will create him [man] in [My] image and likeness, [so 
that he will partake] of the [character of the] celestial 
beings, while he will procreate, [after the nature] of the 
terrestial beings/ R. Tifdai said in R, Aha's name: The 
Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'If I create him of the 
celestial elements he will live [for ever] and not die, and 
if I create him of the terrestial elements, he will die and 
not live [in a future life]. Therefore I will create him of 
the upper and of the lower elements 2 : if he sins he will 
die; while if he does not sin, he will live.' 

12. And have dominion (redu) over the fish 
of the sea (i, 28). R. Hanina said: If he merits it, 
[God says,] 'uredu' (have dominion); while if he does not 
merit, [God says,] 'yerdu' (let them descend). 3 R. Jacob 
of Kefar Hanan said: Of him who is in our image and 
likeness [I say] ' uredu ' (and have dominion) ; but of him 
who is not in our image and likeness [I say] 'yerdu' (let 
them descend). 4 

And God blessed them (i, 28). We learned else- 
where : A virgin is married on the fourth day of the week, 
and a widow on the fifth day. 5 Why is that? Because a 
blessing is written in connection with these days. But 
surely a blessing is written only in connection with the 
fifth and the sixth days? Said Bar Kappara: The fourth 
day is the eve of the fifth, and the fifth is the eve of the 
sixth. 6 

R. Leazar said in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra: 
We-kibshuhah [plural: and do ye subdue it] is actually 

1 Like God Himself. 2 His body of the earth and his soul of heaven. 

3 Or, let others (the beasts) rule over him. I.e. tit instead of n*n ; iyvi is 
the word in v. 26. 

4 Man is entitled to pre-eminence only as long as he cultivates his God- 
like qualities; when he voluntarily abandons them he is even lower 
than the brute creation. 5 Keth. 20. 6 Hence the marriages of the 
fourth and the fifth are consummated on the fifth and the sixth respectively. 

62 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [VIII. 12-13 

written we-kibshah [singular: and do thou subdue it] : man is 
commanded concerning procreation, but not woman. 1 
R. Johanan b. Berokah said: Concerning both man and 
woman it says, And God blessed them, etc. 2 

' We-kibshah" (and subdue her) is written: the man must 
master his wife, that she go not out into the market place, 
for every woman who goes out into the market place will 
eventually come to grief. Whence do we know it? From 
Dinah, as it is written, And Dinah . . . went out, etc. (Gen. 
xxxiv, 1). R. Isaac said in R. Hanina's name: The law is 
as stated by R. Johanan b. Berokah. 

13. R. Abbahu said: The Holy One, blessed be He, took 
a cup of blessing 3 and blessed them. R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said: Michael and Gabriel were Adam's 'best men'. 
R. Simlai said: We find that the Holy One, blessed be He, 
blesses bridegrooms, adorns brides, visits the sick, buries 
the dead, and recites the blessing for mourners. 4 He blesses 
bridegrooms, as it is written, And God blessed 
them; He adorns brides, as it is written, And the Lord 
God built the rib . . . into a woman (ib. 11, 22) 5 ; He visits the 
sick, as it is written, And the Lord appeared unto him, etc. 
(ib. xviii, i) 6 ; He buries the dead, as it is written, And He 
buried him in the valley, etc. (Deut. xxxiv, 6) 7 : R. Samuel 
b. Nahman said: He also visits mourners, as it is written, 
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came from 
Faddan-aram, and blessed him (Gen. xxxv, o/). 8 How did 
He bless him? With the blessing of mourners. 

1 Since the order to subdue the earth is to man alone, the command of 
the first half of the verse {Be fruitful, etc.) is likewise to man alone. 

2 Hence both are subject to that command. 

3 In normal usage a cup of wine over which a benediction is pronounced 
on certain occasions, e.g. at a marriage. 4 V. Keth. 8&. 

5 V. infra, xviii, 1 . 6 When Abraham was indisposed through circumcision. 

7 The proof that He recites the blessing for mourners is missing here, 
but is found in tikbh mufi '• he comforts mourners, as it is written, 
And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed (i.e. 
recited the blessing for mourners) Isaac his son (Gen. xxv, 1). 

8 This immediately follows the death of Deborah, Rebekah's nurse (v. 8), 
and it is understood that Jacob was in mourning for her when God 
appeared to him. 

63 



IX. I~2] 

Chapter IX (BERESHITH) 
i. And God saw every thing that He had 

MADE, AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD (i, 31). 

R. Levi in the name of R. Kama b. Hanina commenced: 
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of 
kings is to search out a matter (Prov. xxv, 2). Said R. Levi 
in the name of R. Hama b. Hanina: From the beginning 
of the Book [of Genesis] up to this point, 'It is the glory 
of God to conceal a thing' ; but from this point onward, 
' The glory of kings is to search out a matter ' : it is the 
glory of the words of the Torah, which are likened to 
kings, as it is said, By me kings reign (ib. vin, 15), 'to 
search out a matter ' ; hence, And God saw every 
thing that He had made, and, behold, it 
was very good. 1 

2. R. Tanhuma commenced: He hath made every thing 
beautiful in its time (Eccl. hi, 11). Said R. Tanhuma: 
The world was created when it was due, and the world 
was not fit to be created earlier. R. Abbahu said: Hence 
we learn that the Holy One, blessed be He, went on 
creating worlds and destroying them until He created 
these [sc. heaven and earth], and then He said: 'These 
please Me; those did not please Me. 2 ; R. Phinehas said: 
The proof of R. Abbahu's statement is : And God 

SAW EVERY THING WHICH HE HAD MADE, etc 3 



1 The meaning of the passage is that everything until the creation of man 
must be left in mystic obscurity and one must study the Torah only from 
the creation of man (Y.T.). It is for this reason that Scripture writes 
And, behold, it was very good at this point, to indicate 
that from here one may 'search out a matter*. 

2 He probably deduces this from the phrase, Beautiful in its time, which 
intimates that He made other worlds when the time was not yet ripe, 
and these were not beautiful, so that he destroyed them. 

s Rendering : And God saw all that He had mad e — 
i.e. all the worlds He had made — B ut behold, i.e. only what had 
now been made (' behold' has that significance: see now I) was very 

GOOD . 

64 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IX. 3-4 

3. And Godsawevery thing that He had 

MADE, AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD. R. Johanan 

and R. Simeon b. Lakish each commented thereon. 
R. Johanan said: When a mortal king builds a palace, 
he can only take in the upper stories with one look and 
the lower stories with another, but the Holy One, blessed 
be He, casts but a single look at the upper and the lower 
portions simultaneously. 1 R. Simeon b. Lakish said: 
Behold, it was very good implies this world; 
and behold implies the next world 2 : The Holy One, 
blessed be He, cast but one look at this world and at the 
future world [together]. 3 

Resh Lakish said in Leazar's name: Ah Lord God J 
behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth (Jer. xxxn, 
17) : since that moment [when Thou didst create the world] 
there is nothing too hard for Thee (ib.). R. Haggai quoted 
in R. Isaac's name: And thou, Solomon my son, know thou 
the God of thy father, and serve Him with a whole heart 
and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, 
and understandeth all the imaginations (yezer) of the thoughts 
(1 Chron. xxviii, 9) : even before a thought is born (nozerah) 
in a man's heart, it is already revealed to Thee. R. Judan 
said in R. Isaac's name: Before even a creature is created, 
his thought is already revealed to Thee. R. Judah said on 
his own behalf: For there is not a word in my tongue, hut, 
lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether (Ps. cxxxix, 4): 
before even my tongue gives expression to speech, ' Thou, 

Lord 9 already knowest it altogether.' 

4. R. rj[ama b. R. IJanina and R. Jonathan explained it 
as follows. R. Hama b. R. IJanina said: Compare this to 
a king who built a palace. He saw it and it pleased him. 
' O palace, O palace,' exclaimed he, 'mayest thou find favour 
in my eyes at all times just as thou hast found favour in 
my eyes at this moment ! ' Similarly, the Holy One, blessed 

1 Interpreting: And God saw EVER Y thing that He had made 
— in a single look. 2 And being interpreted as an extending particle. 
3 The idea underlying these two teachings is that heaven and earth, this 
world and the next, are all interlinked and have one purpose (Y.T.). 

65 P 



IX. 4~S] MIDRASH RABBAH 

be He, apostrophised His world: 'O My world, My 
world! rnayest thou find favour in My eyes at all times 
just as thou hast found favour before Me at this moment.' 
R. Jonathan said: Imagine a king who gave his daughter 
in marriage and arranged a bridal chamber and a home for 
her, which he plastered, panelled, and painted. He saw it 
and it pleased him. ' My daughter, my daughter ! ' he cried 
to her, 'may this bridal chamber find favour before me 
at all times just as it has found favour before me at this 
moment/ Even so said the Holy One, blessed be He, to 
His world, ' O My world, O My world ! mayest thou find 
favour before Me at all times just as thou hast found 
favour before Me at this moment/ 

5. In the copy of R. Meir's Torah [Pentateuch] was 
found written: And, behold, it was very (me'od) 
good: and behold, death (maweth) was good. 1 R. Samuel 
b. Nahman said : I was seated on my grandfather's shoulder 
going up from my own town to Kefar liana via Beth- 
Shean, 2 and I heard R. Simeon b. R. Eleazar as he sat 
and lectured say in R. Meir's name: And, behold, 
it was very good: and, behold, death was good. 3 

R. llama b. R. rlanina and R. Jonathan said the 
following. R. Hama b. R. Hanina said : Adam deserved to 
be spared the experience of death. Why then was the 
penalty of death decreed against him? Because the Holy 
One, blessed be He, foresaw that Nebuchadnezzar and 
Hiram would declare themselves gods ; therefore was death 
decreed against him. Thus it is written, Thou wast in 
Eden the garden of God (Ezek. xxviii, 13): was then Hiram 
in Eden? Surely not! But He said thus to him: 'It is thou 
who causedst him who was in Eden [sc. Adam] to die/ 
R. FEiyya, the son of R. Berekiah's daughter, quoted in 
R. Berekiah's name : Thou wast the far-covering cherub — 
kerub (tb. 14): it was thou who didst cause that youth 

1 THs may mean either that the MS. read mo instead of nan, or 

that this was inserted as a marginal comment. 

2 Scythopolis, in Galilee; v. 'A.Z. (Sonc. ed.), p. 64, n. 7. 

s Because it is a potent force for repentance. 

66 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IX. 5-6 

(roheh — sc. Adam) to die. Said R. Jonathan to him: If 
so, He should have decreed death for the wicked but not 
for the righteous ! But the reason is lest the wicked perform 
a fraudulent repentance, saying : ' Surely the righteous live 
only because they treasure up religious acts and good 
deeds ; so shall we too lay up a store of religious acts and 
good deeds/ and as a result their performance of such 
would be with ulterior motives. 

R. Johanan and R. Simeon b. Lakish discussed this. 
R. Johanan said: Why was death decreed against the 
wicked ? Because as long as the wicked live they anger the 
Lord, as it is written, Ye have wearied the Lord with your 
words (Mai. 11, 17) ; but when they die they cease to anger 
Him, as it is written, There the wicked cease from raging 
(Job in, 17), which means, there the wicked cease from 
enraging the Holy One, blessed be He. Why was death 
decreed against the righteous? Because as long as the 
righteous live they must fight against their evil desires, 
but when they die they enjoy rest; that is the meaning of 
And there the weary are at rest (ib.) : [they say] : We have 
laboured sufficiently. 1 R. Simeon b. Lakish said: [Death 
was decreed] in order to reward the righteous in double 
measure and to punish the wicked in double measure. To 
reward the righteous, who had not deserved to experience 
death, yet did accept the experience of death: Therefore 
in their land they shall possess double (Isa. lxi, 7) ; and to 
punish the wicked, since the righteous had not deserved 
death yet accepted it on their account; therefore, And 
destroy them with double destruction (Jer. xvn, 18). 

6. R. Simeon b. Eleazar said : And, behold, it 
was very good means, and, behold, sleep was good. 
Is there any sleep which is very good! Did we not learn 
thus: Wine and sleep when enjoyed by the wicked are 
beneficial to them and beneficial to the world! 2 But [R. 

1 M.K.: in our fight against evil; Y.T.: we have laboured to attain a 

sufficient reward. 

a When asleep they do no harm. 

67 



IX. 6-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Simeon meant this:] a man sometimes sleeps a little and 
arises and toils much in the study of the Torah. x 

7. Nahman said in R. Samuel's name: Behold, 
it was very good refers to the Good Desire ; And 
behold, it was very good, to the Evil Desire. Can 
then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extra- 
ordinary ! But for the Evil Desire, however, no man would 
build a house, take a wife and beget children ; and thus said 
Solomon : Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in 
work, that it is a man's rivalry with his neighbour (Eccl. IV, 4). 2 

8. R. Huna said: Behold, it was very good 
refers to the dispensation of happiness; And behold, 
it was very good, to the dispensation of suffering. 
Can then suffering actually be very good ? It is in fact so 
because through its instrumentality men attain to the life 
of the future world 3 ; and so said Solomon: And reproofs 
of chastisement [E. V. ' instruction '] are the way of life (Prov. 
vi, 23). Say now, go forth and see which road leads man 
to the life of the future world ? Surely it is suffering. 

9. R. Ze'ira said: Behold, it was very good 
refers to Paradise; And behold, it was very good, 
to Gehenna. Is then the Gehenna very good ? How remark- 
able ! This, however, may be compared to a king who had 
an orchard, into which he brought workers. He built 
a treasure house by its entrance and said: 'Whoever will 
labour conscientiously in the work of the orchard may enter 
the treasure house, but he who will not show himself 
worthy in the work of the orchard may not enter the 
treasure house.' Thus for him who treasures up religious 
acts and good deeds, behold there is Paradise; while for 
him who does not lay up religious acts and good deeds, 
behold there is Gehenna. 

1 Such sleep is very good. 

2 It is the Evil Desire which in the first place inspires this rivalry which 
leads to great efforts. — One may triumph over his human failings by turn- 
ing even them to noble purposes. 3 Suffering chastens and purifies. 

68 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [IX. 10-11 

10. R. Samuel b. R. Isaac said: Behold, it was 
very good alludes to the angel of life; And behold, 
it was very good, to the angel of death. Is then 
the angel of death very good ? Imagine a king who made a 
feast, invited the guests, and set a dish filled with all good 
things before them: 'Whoever will eat and bless the king/ 
said he, 'let him eat and enjoy it; but he who would eat and 
not bless the king, let him be decapitated with a sword.' 
Similarly, for him who lays up precepts and good deeds, 
lo ! there is the angel of life ; while for him who does not 
lay up precepts and good deeds, lo ! there is the angel of 
death. 

ii. R. Simeon b. Abba said: Behold, it was 
very good alludes to the dispensation of good; And 
behold, it was very good, to the dispensation of 
punishment. Is then the dispensation of punishment 
very good? It means that He considered well how to 
bring it. 1 

R. Simon said in R. Simeon b. Abba's name: All 
measures have ceased, 2 yet the rule of measure for measure 3 
has not ceased. R. Huna said in R. Jose's name 4 : From 
the very beginning of the world's creation the Holy One, 
blessed be He, foresaw that man will receive measure for 
measure; therefore Scripture said, And, behold, it 
was very good, meaning, behold, there is a fitting 
dispensation. 

God took good care that the Temple should be destroyed and the Jews 
be deported to Babylon in summer and not in winter, for they would 
never have survived the rigours and hardships of that long journey in 
winter. Mah. : He was anxious how to make the punishment fit the wrongs 
committed so that the victims, recognising this, would be led to 
repentance. Others: He caused the Temple to be destroyed two years 
before its time (translating: He hastened to bring the punishment), for 
had He waited longer, Israel's sins would have condemned them to 
complete destruction. V. Lam. R. on I, 14 ( § 42); Sanh. 38a. 

2 The phrase is somewhat obscure. In Sot. 8b a very similar phrase is 
explained as referring to the four modes of execution. 

3 I.e. punishment befitting the crime; v. Sot. ad loc. 

4 I.e. the teacher known in the Babylonian Talmud as R. Joseph (not 
R. Jose the Tanna). 

69 



IX. 12-14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

12. All our Rabbis said the following in R. Flanina's 
name, while R. Phinehas and R. Hilkiah said it in R. 
Simon's name: Me'od is identical with adam (man), 1 
for the letters of both are identical. Thus it is written, 
And God saw every thing that He had made, 
and, behold, it was very (me'od) good, i.e., 
and behold, adam (man) was good. 

13. R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Behold, it was 
very good alludes to the kingdom of heaven ; And 
behold, it was very good, to the earthly kingdom. 1 
Is then the earthly kingdom very good? How strange! 
[It earns that title] because it exacts justice for men; 
[hence it is written,] /, even /, have made the earth, and 
created man (adam) upon it. (Isa. xlv, 12). 2 

14. And there was evening, and there was 
morning, the sixth day — ha-shishi (l, 31). r. 
Judan said: This intimates the extra hour which we add 
from the profane to the sacred, 3 and in it the work of 
creating the world was finished. Ha-shishi: R. 
Simon said: There came a weakening (metashY of the 
Creation: hitherto world time was counted, 5 but hence- 
forth we count it by a different reckoning. 6 

1 V. supra, viii, 5, p. 58, n. 3. 

2 Theodor : instead of Adam he reads Edom t a synonym in Talmudic and 
Midrashic literature for Rome, to which ' the earthly kingdom ' alludes, 
this being also the reading in the Vilna ed. 

8 He interprets the additional def. art. heh (n) of *wn (in the case 

of other days we have a second, third, day, etc., without this def. art,) 

as intimating that the Sabbath must be commenced before actual nightfall, 

thus adding to the sacred period. 

4 Presumably ha-shishi is connected here with tashash, to weaken. 

6 I.e., the second day, third day, etc., of the world's creation. 

6 I.e., first, second, third day of the week (Y.T., M.K.). 



70 



[X. i-3 

Chapter X (BERESHITH) 

i. And the heaven and the earth were 
finished — wayyekullu (ii, i). / have seen an end 
to every purpose (tiklah), but Thy commandment is exceed- 
ing broad (Ps. cxix, 96) : everything has a measure, heaven 
and earth have a measure, except one thing which has 
no measure : and what is it ? The Torah, [of which it is 
written,] The measure thereof is longer than the earthy etc. 
(Job xi, 9). 1 Another interpretation: 'I have seen an end 
to every purpose ' refers to the work of the heaven, as it is 
said, And the heaven and the earth were 
finished. 2 

2. R. rjama b. R. tlanina commenced: Take away the 
dross from the silver, etc. (Pro v. xxv, 4). R. Eliezer said: 
This may be compared to a bath full of water, in which 
were two beautiful bas-reliefs; as long as it was full of 
water the work of the bas-relief could not be seen, but when 
the plug was removed and the water emptied, the bas- 
relief could be seen. Even so, as long as formlessness and 
void were in the world, the work of heaven and earth could 
not be seen; but as soon as formlessness and void were 
eradicated from the world, the work of heaven could be 
seen. And there comeih forth a vessel (keli) for the refiner 
(ib.), i.e. they [heaven and earth] became finished articles 
(kelim): hence, And the heaven and the earth 
were made into completed utensils. 3 

3. And the heaven and the earth were 
finished, etc. How did the Holy One, blessed be He, 
create His world? Said R. Johanan: The Lord took two 
balls, one of fire and the other of snow, and worked them 

1 Possibly wayyekullu and tiklah are both derived here from kul t to 
measure, cf. Isa. xl, 12: And comprehended (we-kol) the dust of the earth 
in a measure. The verses will then be translated: and the heavens . . . 
were measured off; for every thing I have seen a measure. 

2 On this interpretation 'finished' and 'end* mean in point of time. 

3 Deriving wayyekullu from keli 

71 



X. 3~4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

into each other, and from these the world was created. 
R. lianina said: [He took] four [balls], for the four corners 
[of the universe]. R. Hama said: Six: four for the four 
corners and one for above and one for below. 1 

Hadrian — may his bones rot! 2 — asked R. Joshua b, R. 
Hanina : ' How did the Holy One, blessed be He, create the 
world?' He answered him in accordance with R. llama. 
'Is that actually possible!' exclaimed he. 3 Thereupon he 
led him into a small chamber and said to him: 'Stretch 
out your hand to east, west, north, and south. Even so was 
the work [of Creation] before the Lord/ he added. 4 

4. R, Hoshaya said: R. Efes preached in Antioch 5 : The 
word wayyekullu connotes nought but blows and 
destruction (kelayah). This may be compared to a king who 
entered a province, and its inhabitants praised him, which 
pleased him; thereupon he entertained them with many 
races and charioteers. 6 Subsequently they angered him, 
whereupon he reduced the race meetings and the 
charioteers. Similarly, there is a planet which completes 
its circuit in twelve months, e.g. the sun 7 ; another com- 
pletes its circuit in twelve years, viz. Jupiter; yet another 
completes its circuit in thirty days, viz. the moon; still 
another completes its circuit in thirty years, viz. Saturn; 

1 'E.J.: R. Johanan holds that the world was created by spreading out- 
ward from this ball, which was its centre, to the limits assigned to it; 
while R. rlanina holds that it spread inwards, from four balls which were 
set on its outer limits. R. Hama agrees with R. Hanina, but adds another 
two, which marked its upper and lower boundaries. 

2 The tragedy of the revolt against Hadrian which ended in defeat at 
Bethar in 135 ce. with the massacre of countless Jews, led to a deep 
hatred of him, and his name is generally followed by this imprecation. 

3 Could God really place balls at such widely separated points ! 

4 He can encompass the four corners of the earth just as easily as you can 
touch these walls. 

5 The capital of Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, situated on the 
Orontes (Jast.). 

6 These were very popular in ancient Roman times. Jast. translates: 
he increased for them the speed of the mail-bearers and the number of 
mail stations. 

7 This of course is based on the ancient geo-centric conception of the 
universe. 

72 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [X. 4-5 

except Mercury, Venus, and Mars, which complete their 
circuit in 480 years. 1 

R. Phinehas said in the name of R. Hama of Sepphoris : 
We learned : White figs have their Sabbatical year in the 
second year, because they produce in three years. 2 But on 
that day 3 the fruits were produced in one day. 4 And in the 
Messianic future the Holy One, blessed be He, will heal 
that injury, for it is said, And He will heal the stroke of their 
wound (Isa. xxx, 26), i.e. He will heal the wound of the world. 

5. R. Joshua b. Levi said: The heaven was completed 
with the sun, moon, and planets ; the earth was completed 
with trees, herbs, and the garden of Eden. 5 R. Simon 
said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: The works [of 
creation, i.e. heaven and earth] were completed 6 and went 
on expanding. 7 

And all the host (zeba) of them. R. Eleazar 
said: There are three fixed periods 8 : a fixed period for 

1 These periods are discussed at length by Theodor ad loc, who sub- 
stitutes ' 480 days ' for 480 years. The greater length of time taken by some 
planets is similarly regarded as a punishment (destruction) for Adam's sin. 

2 Sheb. v, 1. The fruits of the Sabbatical year (v. Lev. xxv, 2-8) are 
subject to special laws, e.g. one must not trade in them, while their 
owner may retain only sufficient for his own wants, and must declare 
the rest free to all. By the fruits of the Sabbatical year are meant those 
which take shape (termed nso:n hanatah) in the seventh year, no matter 
when they actually ripen. Now these figs take three years to ripen from 
the time of hanatah ; consequently the laws of the Sabbatical year apply 
only to those which ripen in the second year of the septennate (seven- 
year cycle). s When they were first created. 

4 Thus the fruits were ' smitten ' for the future, to require such a long 
time; that is the meaning of 'wayyekullu' . 

5 He translates ' wayyekullu' literally, they were finished (cf. supra, 1, 14). 
Mah. renders: The heaven was crowned (adorned) with the sun, etc., 
thus deriving 'wayyekullu' from kelil> a wreath or crown. 

6 Each on its own day, e.g. the heaven on the first day, dry land on the 
third, etc. M.K. translates: the works were created in a general shape, 
without a clear-cut formation. 7 Until the sixth day, when their bound- 
aries were finally determined. He too translates 'wayyekullu' literally. 
8 The passage is rather difficult, and commentators differ in their 
explanations. The translation adopted is that of Theodor and Y.T. 
Thus : heaven and earth were created for a definitely fixed time ; a definite 
period is set for disciples when they shall attain the rank of teachers; 
and there is a fixed time beyond which a man's trials cease. — The word 
'zeba' probably means here 'a period of service', such as a soldier's. 

73 



X. 5~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

heaven and earth, a fixed period for disciples, and a fixed 
period for suffering. A fixed period for heaven and earth, 
as it is written, And the heaven and the earth 

WERE FINISHED, AND ALL THEIR FIXED PERIODS. 

A fixed period for disciples, as it is written, All the days of 
my appointed time (zeba'i) 1 would I wait, till my relief should 
come (Job xiv, 14), which means, until my substitute 
arises. 2 And there is a fixed period for suffering, [as it is 
written,] Is there not a fixed period (zeba) to man upon earth 
(ib. vii, 1)? Yet the whole desire of man is to be upon the 
earth [i.e. alive], 3 though what pleasure has he, seeing that 
His days are like the days of a hireling ($.)? 4 Nahman, the 
son of Samuel b. Nahman, said: If a man merits it, a host 
[of divine powers] is for him; if not, a host [of hostile 
powers] is against him. 5 If he erects a building and his 
work is successful, the host is for him ; if he falls from it and 
dies, there is a host against him ; if he eats his bread and it 
benefits him, there is a host for him; if it lodges in his 
throat and chokes him, there is a host against him. Many 
hosts has the Holy One, blessed be He, appointed against 
man to exact His penalties, many bears, lions, snakes, 
fiery serpents, and scorpions; moreover, ' His days are like 
the days of a hireling' ! % 

6. The son of Sira said: God caused drugs to spring 
forth from the earth; with them the physician heals the 
wound and the apothecary compounds his preparations. 7 

R. Simon said : There is not a single herb but has a con- 
stellation in heaven which strikes it and says, 'Grow,' 8 

1 E.V. 'service'. 

2 I.e. until one's own disciple can take his place; v. B.B. 116a. 

3 Others: all man's desires are in respect of earthly matters. 

4 I.e. full of labour and trials. 

6 He translates zaba in the last verse quoted ' host ' — a host for a man may 
either mean for his benefit or one fighting against him. 

6 Who at the end of the day must render an account of his work. So man, 
too, must render an account in the next world for his actions in this. 

7 Cf. Eccl. xxxvni, 4, 7, 8., This, too, is a comment on zeba' am, which 
he translates 'their desires', i.e. everything in creation serves a purpose 
(Mah.). 8 On mazsal cf. Sanh. (Sonc. ed.), p. 629, n. io; it is here 
applied even to plant life. 

74 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [X. 6-7 

as it is written, Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? 
Canst thou establish the dominion thereof (mishtaro) in the 
earth (Job xxxviii, 33) P 1 Canst thou bind the chains of the 
Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion (ib. 31)? R. Hanina b. 
Papa and R. Simon said : Pleiades binds the fruit and Orion 
draws it out between knot and knot, 2 as it is written, Canst 
thou lead forth the constellations (mazaroth) in their season 
(ib. 32)? R. Tanhuni b. R. Hiyya and R. Simon said: 
['Mazaroth* connotes] the constellation which ripens (me- 
mazzer) the fruits. 

7. Our Rabbis said: Even those things which you may 
regard as completely superfluous to the creation of the 
world, such as fleas, gnats, and flies, even they too are 
included in the creation of the world, and the Holy One, 
blessed be He, carries out His purpose through everything, 
even through a snake, a scorpion, a gnat, or a frog. 

R. Aha related this story: A man was standing by the 
bank of a river when he saw a frog bearing a scorpion and 
carrying it across the river; as soon as it had carried out 
its commission, 3 it carried it back to its place. 4 

R. Phinehas related in R. Hanan's name: It once 
happened that a man was about to reap the harvest of a 
field when he saw a certain grass which he plucked and 
plaited into a wreath for his head. Then a snake came up, 
but he struck and killed it. A man then came along and 
stood and looked at the snake wondering, who killed that 
snake? 'I killed it/ said the man. He then saw the grass 
wreath on his head, and said to him, ' Have you of a truth 
really killed it ? Can you remove that herb from your head ? ' 
he continued. 'Yes,' replied he. When he had removed it 
he said to him, 'Can you approach the snake with your 

1 He appears to derive mishtaro from shoter, the court officer who inflicts 
the corporal punishment ordered by the court, thus: canst thou place 
the one which strikes it, etc. 

2 Pleiades binds, i.e. gives shape and substance to the fruit in winter, 
but it is still in a shrivelled-up form until summer, when Orion draws it 
out, giving it the necessary fulness. 

3 Which was to kill someone. 4 Cf. story in Ned. 41a. 

75 



X. 7~"8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

staff?' 'Yes/ replied he. As soon as he approached it, 
his limbs fell to pieces. 1 

R. Jannai was sitting and lecturing at the gate of his 
town, when he saw a snake coming on in great haste, 
slithering to and fro from side to side. 2 'This [snake] is 
going to carry out a mission/ observed he. Immediately 
a report spread in the town, 'So-and-so has been bitten 
by a snake and died/ 

R. Eleazar was sitting to ease himself in a privy, when a 
Roman came and drove him away and sat down. ' This has 
a purpose/ remarked he [R. Eleazar]. Immediately a snake 
emerged and struck and killed him. At that he applied to 
himself the verse, Therefore will I give a man for thee (Isa. 
xliii, 4). 

R. Isaac b. R. Eleazar was strolling on the cliffs of the 
sea of Cassarea, 3 when he saw a thigh-bone; he hid it, 4 
but it rolled out; he hid it again, and again it rolled out. 
'This is intended to perform His [God's] commission, 
he remarked. Then a runner passed by, stumbled over it, 
fell and died. Then they went and searched him and found 
that he was bearing evil decrees against the Jews of Csesarea. 

When the wicked Titus entered the Holy of Holies, he 
dragged down the veil, blasphemed and reviled [God]. 
On his return a mosquito entered his nose and began 
piercing his skull. And when he died they split open his 
brain and found that it was like a bird weighing two 
pounds. 5 

8. And on the seventh day God finished, etc. 
(11, 2). R. Hanina said : R. Ishmael b. R. Jose introduced me 
to a certain innkeeper, saying to me: 'Here my father 
recited the Sabbath prayer on the eve of the Sabbath/ 
R. Jeremiah, R. Ammi, and R. Johanan raised a difficulty : 

1 The snake had been commissioned to kill him, but the wreath had 
saved him. Now that he removed it the strength of its poison — probably 
h had bitten him before it was killed — had its effect and killed him. 
Cf. Lev. R. xxii, 4. 

2 In Lev. R. loc. cit. : driven from one place, it went to another, and so on. 

3 V. supra, ill, 6. 4 So that none might fall over it. 

5 According to other sources the mosquito had grown to that size. 

76 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [X. 8-9 

What ! ' Here my father recited the Sabbath prayer on the 
eve of the Sabbath ! '*■ Yet they need have had no difficulty, 
for some ass-drivers came from Arab 2 to Sepphoris and 
reported: R. tjanina b. Dosa has already commenced the 
Sabbath [by reciting the Sabbath prayers] in his town. 3 
But if you do wish to raise a difficulty, raise it on the 
following. For R. Hanina said : R. Ishmael b. R. Jose intro- 
duced me to a certain innkeeper and said: 'Here my 
father recited the post- Sabbath prayer on the Sabbath.' 
Said R. Assi: This too need have presented no difficulty 
to them, for Rabbi was sitting and lecturing, when he said 
to Abdan his interpreter, 4 'Announce to the congregation 
that they should recite the week-day prayer while it is still 
day.' 5 Furthermore, R. Hiyyab. Ba was sitting and lecturing, 
when he said to his interpreter, 'Announce to the con- 
gregation that they should recite the week-day prayer while 
it is still day/ 

9. Rabbi asked R. Ishmael b. R. Jose: 'Have you heard 
from your father the actual meaning of And on the 
seventh day God finished, etc.?' 6 Said he to him: 
' It is like a man striking the hammer on the anvil, raising 
it by day and bringing it down after nightfall/ 7 R. Simeon 
b. Yohai said : Mortal man, who does not know his minutes, 
his [exact] times or his hours, must add from the profane 
to the sacred ; but the Holy One, blessed be He, who knows 
His moments, His times, and His hours, can enter it by a 
hair's breadth. Genibah and the Rabbis discussed this. 
Genibah said : This may be compared to a king who made 

1 How is that possible? 

2 Near Sepphoris in Upper Galilee; v. Neub. Geogr., p. 204. According 
to a slightly different reading: came on the eve (of the Sabbath) to 
Sepphoris. 3 Though they had left it while it was yet day ; R. Ishmael 
had meant the same thing. 

4 In lengthy popular discourses the lecturer whispered his statements 
to an interpreter, who then spoke them aloud to the people. 

5 Sc. the Sabbath, for by the time they finished it would be night. 

6 For surely God finished His work on the sixth, not on the seventh day. 

7 In the second between his raising it and his bringing it down night has 
commenced. Similarly, God finished His work right at the end of the 
sixth day, so that in that very moment the Sabbath commenced. 

77 



X. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

a bridal chamber, which he plastered, painted, and 
adorned ; now what did the bridal chamber lack ? A bride 
to enter it. Similarly, what did the world still lack? The 
Sabbath. 1 The Rabbis said: Imagine a king who made a 
ring: what did it lack? A signet. Similarly, what did the 
world lack ? The Sabbath. And this is one of the texts they 
changed for king Ptolemy, [making it read:] 'And He 
finished on the sixth day 2 and rested on the seventh/ 

King Ptolemy 3 asked the elders in Rome : ' In how many 
days did the Holy One, blessed be He, create the world ? ' 
'In six days,' they replied. 'And since then Gehenna has 
been burning for the wicked/ exclaimed he; 'woe to the 
world for the judgments it must render!' 4 

His work! Did not R. Berekiah say thus in the name 
of R. Judah b. R. Simon: Neither with labour nor with 
toil did the Holy One, blessed be He, create the world, 
yet you say, [And He rested . . .] from all His 
work! But it is [so stated] in order to punish the wicked 
who destroy the world which was created with labour, and 
to give a goodly reward to the righteous who uphold the 
world which was created with toil. 5 And what was created 
therein? 6 Tranquillity, ease, peace, and quiet. R. Levi 
said in the name of R. Jose b. Nehorai : As long as the hands 
of their Master were working on them they went on 
expanding ; but when the hands of their Master rested, rest 
was afforded to them, and thus He gave rest to His world 
on the seventh day (Ex. xx, n). 7 

1 Thus by means of the Sabbath itself God completed His work, and 
so He actually finished it on the seventh day. Without the higher longings 
inspired by the sanctity of a day consecrated by God mankind is 
incomplete. 2 He could not be expected to understand these ex- 

planations of the 'seventh'. 

8 This is probably a copyist's error (Radal and Theodor). Read: A certain 
philosopher. ^ 4 The text is corrupt, and the translation adopted, based 
on the edd., is an attempt to reconstruct it. 
s Cf. Aboth v, i, and note ad loc. in Sonc. ed. 

6 On the Sabbath, after He rested, for the verse, Because that in it He 
rested from all His work which God created to make (lit. translation) 
implies that this resting itself was in order to make (i.e. create) something. 
7 Y.T.: he interprets wa-yishboth (E.V. ' and he rested'), 'he created 
a resting.' 

7 8 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [X. 9 

R. Abba said : When a mortal king takes his army into 
quarters, he does not distribute largesse, 1 whilst when he 
distributes largesse he does not order a halt ; but the Holy 
One, blessed be He, ordered a halt and distributed largesse, 
[as it is written,] And He rested . . . and He 

BLESSED. 2 

1 That he does only before the troops are to go into battle or start on 
a march. 

2 Not only did He afford man a day of rest, but also made him the gift 
of a sacred day. 



79 



XL 1-2] 

Chapter XI (BERESHITH) 

i. And God blessed the seventh day (ii, 3). 
The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich (Prov. x, 22) : this 
refers to the Sabbath, as it is written, And God 
blessed, etc. And grief addeth nothing thereto (ib.) : 
this refers to mourning, 1 as you read, The king grieveth 
for his son (11 Sam. xix, 3). 

2. And God blessed the seventh day, and 
hallowed it. R. Ishmael said: He blessed it with 
manna and hallowed it with manna. He blessed it with 
manna, for every day of the week there descended one 
( omer [per person], but on the eve of the Sabbath two 
'omers. And He hallowed it through manna, which did 
not descend on the Sabbath at all. R. Nathan said: He 
blessed it with manna and hallowed it with a blessing. R, 
Isaac said: He blessed it with manna and hallowed it 
through the man who gathered [sticks]. 2 

He blessed it with [the distinction of] robing. 3 R. Huna 
said: A man must change [his garments on the Sabbath]. 
R. IJiyya said in R. Johanan's name: A man must mingle 
[his garments]. 4 Abin b. Hasde said: He must let [his cloak] 
hang down. 5 R. Jeremiah and R. Ze'ira were walking 
together [on the Sabbath], R. Jeremiah's cloak being tucked 
up, whereupon R. Ze'ira pulled it down. This shows that 
one must let his cloak hang down. 

R. Liezer said: He blessed it in the matter of a lamp, 
and this happened in my case. I once lit a lamp for the 
Sabbath night, and when I came at the termination of the 
Sabbath I found it still burning and not at all diminished. 

He blessed it with the light of a man's face : the light of 

1 Which is absent on the Sabbath. 

2 V. Num. xv, 32. The sanctity of the Sabbath was thereby emphasised. 

3 A special cloak should be worn on the Sabbath. 

4 If he cannot afford a complete change, he must have something different 
to mingle with his week-day attire. 

5 Instead of tucking it up as on the week-days, when he works in the 
fields. 

80 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XL 2 

a man's face during the week is not the same as it is on the 
Sabbath. 

He blessed it in respect of the luminaries. R. Simeon b. 
Judah said: Though the luminaries were spoilt 1 on the 
eve of the Sabbath, yet they were not smitten until the 
termination of the Sabbath. This agrees with the Rabbis 
but not with R. Assi, 2 who maintained: Adam's glory 
did not abide the night with him. 3 What is the proof? 
But Adam passeth not the night in glory (Ps. xlix, 13). 4 
The Rabbis maintain: His glory abode with him, but at 
the termination of the Sabbath He deprived him of his 
splendour 5 and expelled him from the Garden of Eden, 
as it is written, Thou changest his countenance, and sendest 
him away (Job xiv, 20). As soon as the sun set on the night 
of the Sabbath, the Holy One, blessed be He, wished to 
hide the light, but He showed honour to the Sabbath; 
hence it is written, And God blessed the seventh 
day: wherewith did He bless it? With light. When the 
sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the light continued 
to function, 6 whereupon all began praising, as it is written, 
Under the whole heaven they sing praises to Him (ib. xxxvii, 
3) 7 ; wherefore? Because His light [reaches] unto the ends 
of the earth (ib.). 8 R. Levi said in the name of the son of 
Nezirah: That light functioned thirty-six hours, 9 twelve 
on the eve of the Sabbath [i.e. Friday], twelve during the 
night of the Sabbath, and twelve on the Sabbath [day]. 
When the sun sank at the termination of the Sabbath, 
darkness began to set in. Adam was terrified, [thinking,] 
Surely indeed the darkness shall bruise [E.V. 'envelop'] me 
(Ps. cxxxix, 11): shall he of whom it was written, He shall 
bruise thy head (Gen. in, 15), now come to attack me! 10 

1 Through Adam's sin it was decreed that the primeval light should be 

hidden. Var. lee: cursed. 2 More correctly: R. Jose. 

8 I.e. the primeval light, which was smitten immediately he sinned, 

before the Sabbath. 4 E.V. 'But man abideth not in honour . 

5 By hiding the primeval light. Others : He deprived Adam's countenance 

of its lustre. e At night — this primeval light is meant. 

7 This derives yishrehu from shir, to sing. E.V. 'He sendeth it forth 

under t etc,' 8 On this night. 9 I.e. for Adam, who was created on 

the sixth day. 10 Under cover of darkness. 

8l g 



XI. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

What did the Lord do for him? He made him find two 
flints which he struck against each other; light came forth 
and he uttered a blessing over it; hence it is written, But 
the night was light about me — ba'adeni (Ps. loc. cit.), i.e. 
the night was light in my Eden (be'edni). 1 This agrees with 
Samuel, for Samuel said : Why do we recite a blessing over 
a lamp [fire] at the termination of the Sabbath ? Because 
it was then created for the first time. 2 R. Huna in Rab's 
name, and R. Abbahu in R. Johanan's name said: At the 
termination of the Day of Atonement, too, we recite a 
blessing over it, because the fire rested the whole day. 3 

3. He blessed it by providing for additional expenditure. 
R. Levi said in the name of R. Jose b. R. Hanina: A 
blessing is written in connection with every day in which 
there is a decrease, and so it suffers no loss at all. [E.g.] 
on the fifth day birds and fish were created; now people 
kill birds and eat them, and catch fish and eat them, yet 
since a blessing is written in connection with it, the stock 
does not in any way decrease. Then what can you say of 
the seventh day? 4 R. Levi said in the name of R. Hama b. 
R. Hanina: [It is written] on account of the [additional] 
expenditure. 5 R. Leazar said in R. Jose's name: [The 
blessing was given] on account of people with delicate 
digestions. 6 

4, He blessed it with tasty dishes. Our Teacher 7 made a 
meal for Antoninus 8 on the Sabbath. Cold dishes were set 
before him; he ate them and found them delicious. [On 
another occasion] he made a meal for him during the week, 
when hot dishes were set before him. Said he to him: 
'Those others I enjoyed more.' 'These lack a certain con- 

1 The meaning of the original is not clear, and the translation is a 
conjecture. 

2 Sc. artificial light. 3 I.e. no fire was lit on that day. V. Pes. 53b, 54a. 

4 When nothing was created. 

5 Incurred, without one's wealth being thereby diminished ; cf . Bez. 16a. 

6 The blessing enables them to enjoy the additional fare provided. 

7 R. Judah the Nasi, called Rabbi (teacher) par excellence. 

8 On the identity of Antoninus v. Sanh. (Sonc. ed.)> p. 6io, n. 7. 

82 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XL 4-5 

diment/ he replied. 'Does then the royal pantry lack 
anything?' he exclaimed. 'They lack the Sabbath/ he 
retorted; 'do you indeed possess the Sabbath?' 1 

R. Ishmael b. R. Jose asked Rabbi : On account of what 
virtue do the Babylonians live [a life of wealth] ? In virtue 
of the Torah [which they study]. And in Eretz Israel? 
In virtue of the tithes. And the people of the Diaspora? 
Because they honour the Sabbaths and festivals. R. tliyya 
b. Abba said: I was once invited by a man in Laodicea 2 ; 
they brought before us a table borne on sixteen staves, 
and on it was of everything created in the first six days ; 
a child sat in the middle and recited, The earth is the Lord's, 
and the fulness thereof (Ps. xxiv, 1). Why? So that the owner 
should not grow conceited. Said I to him, 'My son, 
whence did you merit all this wealth?' 'I was a butcher/ 
replied he, 'and whenever I saw a well-favoured animal, 
I set it aside for the Sabbath/ 3 

R. Tanhuma said: It once happened in Rome on the 
eve of the great fast [sc. the Day of Atonement] that a 
certain tailor went to buy a fish, and it fell out that he and 
the governor's servant began bargaining for it. Each over- 
bid the other until it reached twelve dinars, at which price 
the tailor bought it. At dinner the governor demanded of 
the servant, 'Why have you not served fish?' 'I will tell 
you the truth, sir/ he replied. 'A certain Jew did thus to 
me : did you really want me to bring you a single fish for 
twelve dinars!' 'Who was it?' inquired he. 'So-and-so, 
the Jew/ he answered. He had him summoned and said 
to him, 'A Jewish tailor can eat a fish at twelve dinars!' 
' Sir,' replied he, 'we have one day when all our sins of the 
year are forgiven, and we honour it greatly.' When he 
produced proof of his words, he dismissed him. 4 

5. The wicked Tinneus Rufus 5 asked R. Akiba: 'Why 
does this day [the Sabbath] differ from other days?' 
'Why does one man differ from other men?' he retorted. 

1 Shab. ii9<2. 2 A town of Syria. 3 V. Shab. 119a. 

4 Cf. story in Shab., loc. cit. y of a certain Joseph, who honoured the 

Sabbath. e A Roman governor of Judea ; v. Sanh. 656. 

8* 



XL 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

'What did I ask you and what did you answer me?' 
inquired he. 'You asked me/ he replied, 'why does the 
Sabbath differ from all other days,' and I answered you, 
'Why does Rufus differ from other men/ 'Because the 
emperor desired to honour him/ said he. 'Then this day, 
too, the Holy One wished to honour/ 'How can you prove 
it to me?' 1 'Let the river Sambatyon prove it, which 
carries stones the whole week 2 but allows them to rest on 
the Sabbath/ 'You are evading the question/ 3 he exclaimed. 
'Then let him who brings up [the dead by] his male 
genital prove it/ he replied, 'for every day he [the dead] 
comes up but not on the Sabbath/ 4 He went and made a 
test with his own father: every day he came up, but on 
the Sabbath he did not come up. After the Sabbath he 
brought him up [again]. ' Father/ said he, ' have you become 
a Jew after death ! Why did you ascend during the whole 
week but not on the Sabbath ? ' 'He who does not keep the 
Sabbath among you of his own free will must keep it 
here in spite of himself/ 'But what toil have you there?' 
he demanded. 'The whole week we undergo judgment, 
but on the Sabbath we rest/ Then he went back to R. 
Akiba and said to him: 'If it is as you say that the Holy 
One, blessed be He, honours the Sabbath, then He should 
not stir up winds or cause the rain to fall on that day/ 
'Woe to that man ! ' 5 he exclaimed ; ' it is like one who carries 
[objects] four cubits/ 6 

6. A philosopher asked R. Hoshaya: 'If circumcision 
is so precious, why was it not given to Adam?' 7 'If so/ 

1 That this is indeed the seventh day. 

2 The strong force of its current carries along stones and rubble, rendering 
it unnavigable. It is a mythical river; v. Theodor ad loc. and Neub. 
Geogr., p. 33 • 3 Lit. ' you are drawing me away ' — to a distant place ; 
you quote as proof a distant river I have never seen. 

4 This refers to a kind of necromancer (ba'al-ob) who brought up the 
dead by means of the membrum virile. 
8 Lit. ' let fainting come upon that man' . 

6 The whole universe is God's private domain, as it were, and when He 
moves the winds and rain it is to Him like carrying in private ground, 
which is permitted even on the Sabbath. 

7 I.e. why was he not born circumcised ? 

84 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XL 6-8 

he replied, 'why do you shave the corners of your head and 
leave your beard?' 'Because it grew with me in folly,' 1 
was the answer. ' If so, you should blind your eye and cut 
off your hands!' 2 'To such an argument have we come!' 
observed he. 3 'I cannot send you away empty-handed,' 
said he ; ' [the real reason is this :] whatever was created in 
the first six days requires further preparation, e.g., mustard 
needs sweetening, vetches need sweetening, wheat needs 
grinding, and man too needs to be finished off.' 4 

7. R. Johanan said in R. Jose's name: Abraham, who 
is not reported to have kept the Sabbath, 5 inherited the 
world in [limited] measure, as it is written, Arise, walk 
through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it 
(Gen. xiii, 17). But Jacob, of whom the keeping of the 
Sabbath is mentioned, viz. And he rested [E.V. 'encamped'] 
before the city (ib. xxxni, 18), which means that he entered 
at twilight and set boundaries before sunset, 6 inherited the 
world without measure, [as it is written], And thou shalt 
spread abroad to the west, and to the east, etc. (ib. xxvm, 14). 

8. Now why did He bless it? R. Berekiah said: Because 
it has no mate. The first day of the week has the second, 
the third has the fourth, the fifth has the sixth, but the 
Sabbath has no partner. R. Samuel b. Nahman said: 
Because it cannot be postponed : a festival can be postponed, 
the Day of Atonement can be postponed, 7 but the Sabbath 
cannot be postponed. 

R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: The Sabbath pleaded to the 
Holy One, blessed be He : ' All have a partner, while I have 
no partner!' 'The Community of Israel is your partner,' 
God answered. And when they stood before the mountain 
of Sinai, He said to them, ' Remember what I said to the 

1 In childhood and youth, before I reached the years of discretion. Hence 
it is of less value and I cut it. 2 These, too, you have from birth. 
s Your arguments are mere sophistries. 4 By circumcision. 

5 Mah.: it is not stated specifically that he kept the Sabbath, but only in 
general terms that he kept God's law; v. infra, lxiv, 4. 

6 V. infra, lxxix, 6 ad fin. 

7 These are dependent on the day which the Court declares to be New 
Moon; thus if New Moon is declared a day later these too fall later. 

8 5 



XL 8-IO] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Sabbath, that the Community of Israel is your partner, 
[hence,] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy ' (Ex. xx, 8). 

9. Because that in it He rested from all 
His work which God created to make (ii, 3). 1 
R. Levi said in the name of R. Hama b. R. Hanina: The 
Holy One, blessed be He, created three objects on each 
day: on the first, heaven, earth, and light; on the second, 
the firmament, Gehenna, and the angels; on the third, 
trees, herbs, and the Garden of Eden; on the fourth, the 
sun, the moon, and the constellations ; on the fifth, birds, 
fish, and the Leviathan; on the sixth, Adam, Eve, and 
moving creatures. 2 R. Phinehas said : In the sixth He created 
six things: Adam, Eve, creeping things, cattle, beasts, 
and demons. R. Banayah said : Which God created and made 
is not written here, but Which God created to 
make: whatever the Holy One, blessed be He, was to have 
made on the seventh, He created beforehand on the sixth. 3 

10. R. Phinehas said in R. Oshaya's name: Although 
you read: Because that in it He rested from 
all His work which God created to make, 
He rested from the work of [creating] His world, but not 
from the work of the wicked and the work of the righteous, 
for He works with the former and with the latter. He shows 
the former their essential character, and the latter their 
essential character. And how do we know that the punish- 
ment of the wicked is called work ? Because it is said, The 
Lord hath opened His armoury, and hath brought forth the 
weapons of His indignation, for it is a work that the Lord 
God hath to do (Jer. l, 25). And how do we know that the 
bestowing of reward upon the righteous is called work? 
Because it is said, Oh how abundant is Thy goodness, which 
Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast 
wrought for them that take refuge in Thee, in the sight of 
the sons of men (Ps. xxxi, 20) ! 

1 Lit. translation. E.V. . . . * Which God in creating had made* 

2 Hemes , which in his view includes animals and wild beasts. 

8 Rendering: God created what He was to make (on the seventh day). 
— Hence he made six things instead of three on the sixth day. 

86 



[XII. i 
Chapter XII (BERESHITH) 
i. These are the generations of the heaven 

AND OF THE EARTH WHEN THEY WERE CREATED 

(il, 4). Lo, these are hut parts of His ways; and what blemish 
of aught is heard of Him! But the thunder of His mighty 
deeds who can understand (Job xxvi, 14)? R. Huna said: 
Whatever things you see are but parts of the ways of the 
Holy One, blessed be He, as it says, l Lo, these are but 
parts of His ways ; and what blemish of aught is heard of 
Him J : what defect is heard of Him? 'But the thunder of 
His mighty deeds who can understand 3 ? R. Huna said: 
When thunder goes forth in its full force, no creature can 
understand it. It is not written, none understands, but 'who 
can understand? n The intelligent know His hints and His 
thoughts. 2 Said R. Huna: If you cannot comprehend the 
essential nature of thunder, can you comprehend the 
essence of the world ! If a man tells you, ' I can comprehend 
the essential character of the universe,' say to him, 'For 
what is the man that cometh after the king' (Eccl. ir, 12)? 
i.e. after the King of the Universe, the supreme King of 
kings, the Holy One, blessed be He! R. Nahman said 3 : 
This may be compared to a thicket of reeds which no man 
could enter, for whoever entered therein lost his way. 
What did a certain clever man do? He cut down [some 
reeds] and entered, then cut down more and penetrated 
further ; thus he entered through the clearing and went out ; 
then all began to enter through his clearing. R. Nahman 
gave another illustration. Imagine a large palace with many 
doors, so that whoever entered therein lost his way. What 
did a certain wise man do ? He took a ball of cord and tied 
it near the door. Then all commenced to enter and go out 

1 Which implies that some may understand. 

2 Y.T.: they understand it as a hint to introspection and repentance. 

8 Mah.: this is a comment on the first half of the verse just quoted, 
viz. And I turned myself to behold wisdom — i.e. I (sc. Solomon) 
endeavoured to find a method to understand the wisdom of the Torah. 
Cf. S.S. R. 1, 1, § 8. 

87 



XII. 1-2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

by means of the clue. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: This may 
be compared to a mortal king who built a palace. People 
entered it and criticised: 'If the columns were taller it 
would be beautiful; if the walls were higher it would be 
beautiful; if the ceiling were loftier it would be beautiful/ 
But will any man come and say, ' Oh that I had three eyes 
or three feet!' Surely not. 1 It is not stated, 'That which 
He hath already made him/ but ' That which they have 
already made him ' : if it were possible to say so, the supreme 
King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, and His 
court took a vote on every limb of thine and set thee up 
in proper trim: thus it is written, He hath made thee, 
and established thee (Deut. xxxn, 6). s 

R. Levi b. Haytha 3 said: If a mortal king builds a palace 
and sets its waterspout at its entrance, it is unbecoming. 
Yet the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be 
He, created man and set his spout [sc. the nose] over his 
entrance [mouth], and that constitutes his beauty and his 
pride. R. Isaac b. Merion said: It is written, These 

ARE THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVEN, etc. : when 

their Creator praises them, 4 who may disparage them; 
when their Creator lauds them, who may find fault with 
them? But they are comely and praiseworthy; hence it is 
written, These are the generations of the 
heaven, etc. 

2. For all these things hath My hand made (Isa. lxvi, 2). 
R. Berekiah objected in the name of R. Judah b. R. Simon : 
Not with labour or wearying toil did the Holy One, blessed 
be He, create His world, yet you actually say, 'For all these 
things hath My hand made'! 5 R. Judan said: [It means that 
God created the world] for the sake of the Torah [which is 
referred to as 'these' in the verse,] These are the statutes 



1 Human achievements may fall short of perfection, but not the work of 
God. 2 Cf. Hul. 566 on this verse. s Other MSS. :Htama ;R.Nahman. 
4 This is deduced from the phrase These are, God pointing to them 
with pride, like a worker who draws attention to the fine quality of his 
work. 5 This implies physical labour, whereas God's fiat was 

sufficient; cf. supra, in, 2; x, 9. 

88 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 2~4 

and ordinances and laws — toroth (Lev. xxvi, 46). x R. Joshua 
b. R. Nehemiah said: For the sake of the tribes, [as it is 
written,] Now these are the names of the tribes (Ezek. 
xlviii, i). 2 And so all these things came to he, saiih the Lord 
(Isa. loc. cit,): hence, These are the generations 
of the heaven. 

3. These are the generations of the heaven, 
etc. R. Abbahu said : Wherever ' these are ' (eleh) is written, 
it disqualifies [rejects] the preceding; 'and these are* 
(we-eleh) adds to the preceding. Here, where These 
a r e is written, it disqualifies the preceding. What does it 
disqualify? Formlessness and void. 3 

4. R. Judah and R. Nehemiah discussed this passage. 
R. Judah said : And the heaven and the earth were finished 
in their own time, and all their host in their own time. 4 
Said R. Nehemiah to him : But it is written, These 

ARE THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVEN AND OF 
THE EARTH BE-HIBBARAM (WHEN THEY WERE 

created), which means: they are [now] as when they 
were [first] created, i.e. on the very day they were created 
they brought forth their generations. 5 R. Judah countered: 
Yet surely it is written, And there was evening and there was 
morning, one day ... a second day ... a third day . . . a 

1 PL of Torah. He renders: And for the sake of all these things (sc. the 
Torah) hath My hand made, etc. 

2 Other sources quote All these are the twelve tribes of Israel {Gen. xlix, 
28), or, Now these are the names of the sons of Israel (Ex. 1, 1), instead of 
the verse from Ezekiel, and these seem preferable; cf. Ex. R. xlviii, z. 

3 Y.T.: If a passage commences with 'these are', it implies that only the 
things that follow are worthy to be so counted, but not what went before. 
If a passage commences with 'and these are', it indicates that these too 
are worthy, in addition to what went before. According to the Rabbis, 
God created other worlds before the present one, but destroyed them, 
reducing them to formlessness and void. This is intimated in the present 
verse, These are the generations of the heaven, etc., 
implying that the earlier worlds could not be called 'these*, since they 
reverted to their original chaos. V. Ex. R, xxx, 3. 

* I.e. heaven and earth were first created, and then the hosts of heaven 
and earth (M.K.). 5 I.e. the heaven and the earth were created 

simultaneously with their generations. 

89 



XII. 4~5l MIDRASH RABBAH 

fourth day . . . a fifth day ... a sixth day? 1 Said R. 
Nehemiah : They were like those who gather figs, when each 
appears in its own time. 2 R. Berekiah observed in con- 
firmation of this view of R. Nehemiah: And the earth 
brought forth, etc. (Gen. I, 12), implies something which 
was already stored within it. 

5. R. Nehemiah of Siknin said 3 : For in six days the Lord 
made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is (Ex. 
xx, 11): these three things constitute the fundamental 
elements of the creation ; they each waited three days and 
then produced three things. The earth was created on the 
first day, according to Beth Hillel, waited three days, viz., 
the first, second, and third, and brought forth three 
generations: trees, herbs, and the Garden of Eden. The 
firmament [heaven] was created on the second day, waited 
three days, viz., the second, third, and fourth, and brought 
forth three generations: the sun, moon, and constellations. 
The seas were created on the third day, tarried three days, 
viz., the third, fourth, and fifth, and produced three genera- 
tions: birds, fish, and the Leviathan. R. 'Azariah, however, 
maintained: It is not so, but In the day that the 
Lord God made earth and heaven teaches that 
two things constitute the fundamental elements of creation, 
and they waited three days and their work was completed 
on the fourth day. Heaven was created on the first day, 
as maintained by the School of Shammai; then it waited 
three days, viz., the first, second, and third, and its work 
was completed on the fourth. And what was the completion 
of its work ? The luminaries, which were what the world 
lacked, as it is said, And God set them in the firmament of 
the heaven (Gen. 1, 17). The essential creation of the earth 



1 On each of these days a generation of heaven or earth was created, 
whereas heaven and earth were themselves created on the first day. 

2 In a crop of figs all take shape about the same time, but they do not 
all ripen at the same time. Similarly the hosts {'generations') were created 
together with heaven and earth, but only completed each on the day 
assigned to it. 

3 Near Sepphoris. But in Sot. 186 we find: Netiunia, the digger of wells. 

90 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 5-6 

was on the third day, as it is said, And the earth brought 
forth {ib. 12); also, And let the dry land appear {ib. 9). 1 
It waited three days, viz., the third, fourth, and fifth, and 
its work was completed on the sixth day. And what was 
the completion of its work ? Man, as it is written, I, even 
I, have made the earth, and created man upon it (Isa. xlv, 12). 

6. Generations (toledoth) .All toledoth found 
in Scripture are defective, 2 except two, viz. These are the 
toledoth (generations) of Perez (Ruth iv, 18), and the 
present instance. * And why are they defective? R. Judan 
said in R. Abun's name : The six [which they lack] 3 corre- 
sponds to the six things which were taken away from Adam, 
viz., his lustre, his immortality [lit. 'life'], his height, the 
fruit of the earth, the fruit of trees, and the luminaries. 4 
Whence do we know this of his lustre? — Thou changest his 
countenance, and sendest him away (Job xiv, 20). His 
immortality ? — For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou 
return (Gen. in, 19). His height? — For it says, And the man 
and his wife hid themselves {ib. 8). 5 R. Aibu said: His height 
was cut down and reduced to one hundred cubits. The fruit 
of the earth and the fruit of the tree ? — Cursed is the ground 
for thy sake, etc. {ib. 17). Luminaries? — R. Simeon b. Judah 
said: Though the luminaries were cursed on the eve of 
the Sabbath, they were not smitten until the termination of 
the Sabbath. This agrees with the Rabbis but not with R. 
Assi, who maintained: Adam did not retain his glory for 
a night. What is the proof? But Adam passeth not the night 
in glory (Ps. xlix, 13). The Rabbis maintain: He passed the 
night in his glory, but at the termination of the Sabbath 
He deprived him of his splendour and expelled him from 
the Garden of Eden, as it is written, ''Thou changest his 
countenance, and sendest him away' (Job xiv, 20). As soon 

1 Both quotations relate to the third day. 

2 Lacking a waw, i.e. niibn instead of rrnbin. 

3 The waw as a numeral is six. 

4 These were reduced, the earth and trees having originally produced 
fruit in one day, and the light of the luminaries being much greater than 
now, as explained in the text. 8 He originally filled the whole world 
(v. supra, vm, 1), and now he was small enough to hide among the trees! 

91 



XII. 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

as the sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, wished to hide the light, but He showed 
honour to the Sabbath; hence it is written, And God blessed 
the seventh day y etc. (Gen. n, 3): wherewith did He 
bless it? with light. When the sun set on the night of the 
Sabbath, the light continued to function, whereupon all 
began praising, as it is written, Under the whole heaven they 
sing praises to Him (Job xxxvn, 3); wherefore? Because 
His light [reaches] unto the ends of the earth (ib,). R. Levi 
said in the name of the son of Nezirah : That light functioned 
thirty-six hours, twelve on the eve of the Sabbath [i.e. 
Friday], twelve during the night of the Sabbath, and twelve 
on the Sabbath [day]. When the sun sank at the termina- 
tion of the Sabbath, darkness began to set in. Adam was 
terrified, [thinking,] Surely indeed the darkness shall bruise 
[E.V. 'envelop'] me (Ps. cxxxix, 11): shall he of whom it 
was written, He shall bruise thy head (Gen. in, 15) now come 
to attack me ! What did the Lord do for him ? He made him 
find two flints which he struck against each other; light 
came forth and he uttered a blessing over it; hence it is 
written, But the night was light about me — ba'adeni (Ps. 
loc. cit.), i.e. the night was light in my Eden (be-'edni). 
This agrees with Samuel, for Samuel said: Why do we 
recite a blessing over a lamp [fire] at the termination of the 
Sabbath? Because it was then created for the first time. 
R. Huna in Rab's name, and R. Abbahu in R. Johanan's 
name said : At the termination of the Day of Atonement, too, 
we recite a blessing over it, because the fire rested the whole 
day. 1 R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Samuel b. 
Nahman: Though these things were created in their ful- 
ness, 2 yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they 
will not again return to their perfection until the son of 
Perez [viz. Messiah] comes ; [for in the verse] ' These 
are the toledoth (generations) of Perez', toledoth is spelled 
fully, with a waw. These are they 3 : his lustre, his 

1 For notes on this whole passage v. supra, xi, 2. 

2 The fact that toledoth is spelled here fully, with a waw, 
intimates that they were created with their full power. 

z The six things whose restoration is symbolised by the inclusion of the waw. 

92 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 6-7 

immortality, his height, the fruit of the earth and the fruit 
of trees, and the luminaries. Whence do we know it of 
his lustre ? — But they that love him shall be as the sun when 
hegoethforthin his might (Judg. v, 31). His immortality? — 
For as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people (Isa. 
lxv, 22). 1 His height? — And I will make you go upright — 
komemiuth (Lev. xxvi, 13). R. Hiyya taught: That means, 
with an erect bearing, fearing no creature. R. Judan said : 
It indicates a height of one hundred cubits. R. Simeon 
said : Two hundred. R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said : Three 
hundred. Whence do we know it? From the word 
' komemiuth ' : komah implies one hundred cubits, while 
miuth implies [another] two hundred cubits. 2 R. Abbahu 
said: Nine hundred cubits. R. Berekiah stated R. Abbahu's 
reason in R. Dosa's name: A sycamore tree continues 
growing in the earth six hundred years, while an infant 
comes out from his mother's womb a cubit and a half [in 
length] : go and calculate, a cubit and . a half per annum, 
which gives nine hundred cubits. 3 Whence do we know it of 
the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the tree }—For as the 
seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, etc. (Zech. viii, 
12), 4 The luminaries ? — Moreover, the light of the moon shall 
be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be 
sevenfold, as the light of the seven days (Isa. xxx, 26). 

7. All have offspring. Heaven and earth have offspring: 
1 These are the offspring of the heaven and of the earth,' Rain 



1 M.S.P. adds : R. Simeon b. Yohai said: ' Tree' refers to no jght but the 
Torah, as it is said, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her 
(Prov. ill, 18). Hence man will be immortal like the Torah itself. 

2 Miuth is read as me'oth > hundreds. V. Sanh. iooa\ B.B. 75a. 

3 The passage is difficult. 'A cubit and a half is based on a different 
reading, the text having 'a lopped-off cubit', i.e. rather less than a cubit. 
Y.T. explains : R. Abbahu refers to the verse, 'For as the days of a tree, ' 
etc. As no tree is specified, he assumes it to mean the longest-lived one, 
viz. the sycamore, and holds that the point of similarity is not only the 
length of life, but also the manner of growth, the verse teaching that the 
height of men shall be as much as if they were to grow uniformly for 
six hundred years at" one and a half cubits per annum, which is the 
average size of a new-born babe. 4 The vine shall give her fruit 
implies, in the same measure and speed as when it was first created. 

93 



XII. 7-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

has offspring: Hath the rain a father (Job xxxvin, 28)? 
Dew has offspring: Who hath begotten the drops of dew (ib.) ? 
R. Simeon b. Lakish said : That refers to the pearls of dew. 1 
It was taught: Whatever has offspring dies, decays, is 
created, but cannot create; but what has no offspring 
neither dies nor decays, creates but is not created. R. 
'Azariah said in the name of Rabbi: This was said in 
reference to the One above. 

8. Now all that you see are the offspring of heaven and 
earth, as it is said, In the beginning God created the heaven 
and the earth? On the second day, His creations were of 
the celestial world: And God said: Let there be a firmament, 
etc. (Gen. 1, 6) ; on the third, they were of the terrestial.: 
And God said: Let the earth put forth grass (ib. 11); on the 
fourth, of the celestial : Let there be light (ib. 14) ; the fifth, 
of the terrestial: Let the waters swarm, etc. (ib. 20). On the 
sixth day, He came to create man. Said He: 'If I create 
him belonging to the celestial world, this will outnumber 
the terrestial by one creation, and there will be no peace 
in the universe ; while if he is of the terrestial world it will 
be likewise. But lo ! I will create him as partaking of both 
the celestial and the terrestial worlds, for the sake of peace/ 
Hence it is written, Then the Lord God formed man of the 
dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath 
of life (ib. 11, 7), which is of the upper world. And so Resh 
Lakish cited: Dominion and fear are with Him; He maketh 
peace in His high places (Job xxv, 2). 

9. When they were created — behibbaram. 
R. Joshua b. Karhah said: Behibbaram is identical 
in lettering with beabraham 3 ; i.e. for the sake of Abraham, 

1 Drops of water lying in the dew which look like pearls. — The offsprings 
of heaven are the luminaries ; those of the earth are plant life and human 
life; those of dew are the fruit of the earth. The deduction in respect of 
dew is from the words father and begotten, which imply that dew is in 
the category of things that beget (Y.T.). 

2 And everything that followed was derived from these. 

3 Lit. 'for Abraham'. In Heb. both words contain the same letters, 
though in different order: Dtrfcna, armsa. 

94 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 9-IO 

whom He was one day to raise up. R. 'Azariah quoted 
on this statement of R. Joshua b. Karhah the verse: 
Thou art the Lord, even Thou alone ; Thou hast made heaven 
(continuing the whole passage) (Neh. IX, 6); and what 
was all this toil for? Because, Thou art the Lord God, who 
didst choose Ahram, etc. (ib. 7). R. Judan said: It is not 
written 'On the high mountains are the wild goats/ but, 
The high mountains are for the wild goats (Ps. civ, 18): 
thus for whose sake were the high mountains created ? 
For the sake of the wild goats. Now the hind is weak and 
afraid of wild beasts ; when therefore she wishes to drink, 
the Holy One, blessed be He, throws her into a state of 
panic and she beats with her horns [on the rocks]; the 
wild beast hears it and flees. The rocks are a refuge for the 
conies (ib.) : the coney takes shelter under the crag from the 
flying bird, lest it devour it. Then if the Holy One, blessed 
be He, created His world thus for the sake of unclean 
things, how much the more for the sake of Abraham ! 

10. When they were created — behibbaram. 
R. Abbahu said in R. Johanan's name: He created them 
with the letter heh. 1 All letters demand an effort to 
pronounce them, whereas the heh demands no effort 2 ; 
similarly, not with labour or wearying toil did the Holy 
One, blessed be He, create His world, but By the word of the 
Lord (Ps. xxxiii, 6), and The heavens were already made (ib.). z 

R. Judah the Nasi 4 asked R. Samuel b. Nahman: 'As I 
have heard that you are a master of haggadah, tell me the 
meaning of, Extol Him that rideth upon the skies, be-Jah 
is His name (Ps. lxviii, 5) ? ' Said he to him : ' There is not 
a single place which has not someone appointed to rule 
over it 5 : thus a commissioner in a province is appointed 

1 Reading OK'nana as two words: dk-d 'm. 

2 Being a mere aspirate. — Lit. 'all letters take hold of the tongue', etc. 

3 A mere word, and the work was finished. Jewish thought knows nothing 
of recalcitrant matter fighting against God and refusing to be shaped 
into a world. * This, of course, would not be the famous R. Judah 
the Nasi, compiler of the Mishnah, but his grandson, R. Judah II. 

5 Theodor. Jast. : There is not a place which has not an officer appointed 
over its highways. 

95 



XII. 10] MIDRASH RABBAH 

to its governorship ; a magistrate in a province is appointed 
to its governorship. Similarly, who is appointed to the 
governorship of His world ? The Holy One, blessed be He : 
"Be-Jah is His name" means biyah (governorship) is His 
name/ 1 'Alas for those who are gone and will not return F 2 
he exclaimed. ' I asked R. Eleazar, and he did not explain 
it thus. But the verse, Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for the 
Lord be-Jah is an everlasting Rock (Isa. xxvi, 4) means: 
By these two letters did the Lord create His world.' 3 Now 
we do not know whether this world was created with a 
he or the next world with a yod, but from what R. Abbahu 
said in R. Johanan's name, viz. 'Be-hibbaram means, 
with a hi created He them/ it follows that this world was 
created by means of a he. Now the he is closed on all sides 
and open underneath : that is an indication that all the dead 
descend into sheol; its upper hook is an indication that 
they are destined to ascend thence; the opening at the side 
is a hint to penitents. 4 The next world was created with 
a yod: as the yod has a bent [curved] back, so are the 
wicked: their erectness shall be bent and their faces 
blackened [with shame] in the Messianic future, as it is 
written, And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down 
{ib. 11, 17). What will he [the wicked] say? And the idols 
shall utterly pass away {ib. 18). 

Be-hibbaram. R. Berekiah said in the name of R. 
Judah b. R. Simon: Not with labour or wearying toil did 
the Holy One, blessed be He, create His world, but 'By 
the word of the Lord y and the heavens were already made'. 

Be-hibbaram: with a he created He them. It was 
like a king who rebuked his servant, so that he stood still 
in bewilderment; even so, The pillars of heaven tremble and 
are astonished at His rebuke (Job xxvi, n). 6 

1 Reading hijah instead of be-J(Y)ah. 

2 I.e., the dead. 

Translating: for the Lord, by means of rp (yod hi) is the Rock (i.e. 
Creator) of worlds, viz. this world and the future world. 

4 That the way is open for a return to God. 

5 The universe went on expanding until rebuked by God (v. supra, vin, 8). 
This rebuke was wordless and consisted of a single sound, like the 
letter he. 

96 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 11-12 

ii. R. Eliezer and R. Joshua differed. R. Eliezer said: 
All that is in heaven was created out of heaven, and all that 
is on earth was created out of the earth. He proves this 
from the following : Praise ye the Lord [ye that were created] 
from the heavens ; Praise ye Him, all His angels . . . hosts 
. . . sun . . . moon . . . etc. (Ps. cxlviii, i) ; Praise the Lord 
[ye that were created] from the earth, ye sea-monsters . . . 
fire and hail . . . mountains . . . hills . . . beasts . . . cattle 
(ib. 7 f). R. Joshua maintained: All that is in heaven and on 
earth was created from nought but heaven. He proves it 
from the following : For He saith to the snow : Be thou on 
the earth, etc. (Job xxxvn, 6). Just as the snow is created 
out of heaven, though its existence is on the earth; so 
everything that is in heaven and on earth was created 
from nought but heaven. R. Huna said in R. Joseph's 
name : Whatever is in heaven and on earth was created from 
the earth alone, as it is written, For as the rain cometh down 
and the snow from heaven (Isa. lv, io): just as the rain's 
creation is from the earth, though it falls from heaven, 
so all that is in heaven and on earth was created from the 
earth alone. 1 R. Judan proved it from the following : All go 
unto one place; all are of the dust, i.e. earth (Eccl. in, 20). 
R. Nahman said: Even the sun's orb, as it is said, Who 
commandeih the sun (heres), and it riseth not (Job ix, y). 2 

12. R. Johanan and Resh Lakish discussed this. R. 
Johanan said: When a mortal king builds a palace, after 
having built the lower stories he builds the upper ones; 
but the Holy One, blessed be He, created the upper stories 
and the lower stories in a single act. 3 R. Simeon b. Lakish 
said: When a human being builds a ship, first he brings 
the beams, then the ropes; after this he procures the 
anchors, and then erects the masts. But the Holy One, 
blessed be He, created them [heaven and earth] and their 

1 The proof is not clear and Th. assumes that some emendation of the 
text is necessary both here and in Eccl. R. m, 20. 

* The proof follows from a play on words, Din (sun) being identified 
with vnn, a potsherd which is made from clay : thus even the sun was 
born out of the earth! s Cf. supra, 1, 15, and ix, 3. 

97 H 



XII. 12-14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

crew, 1 as it is written, Thus saith God the Lord, He that 
created the heavens and stretched them forth — we-notehem 
(Isa. xlii, 5); this is written we-nawtehem (and their 
mariners). 2 

13. R. Isaac and R. Simeon b. Lakish — R. Isaac said: 
When a mortal sets up a tent, after a while it is bound to 
slacken slightly; but here in truth, Canst thou with Him 
spread out the sky (Job xxxvn, 18)? And should you say 
that they are slack, therefore it is stated, Which is strong 
as a molten mirror (ih.). Resh Lakish said: When a mere 
mortal makes a casting, 3 in the course of time it is bound 
to acquire rust; but in truth here they are 'Strong as a 
molten mirror' : they [the heavens] look like a [glittering] 
breastplate. R. 'Azariah observed in regard to this statement 
of R. Simeon b. Lakish: It is written, 'Because that in it 
He rested from all His work which God in creating had made. 
These are the offspring of the heaven! '* But a day ends and 
a day commences, a week ends and another commences, 
a month ends and another commences, a year ends and 
another commences, and yet they remain as When 
they were created, in the day that the 
Lord God made earth and heaven. 5 

14. Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel differ. Beth Shammai 
maintain : The intention [to create was conceived] at night, 
while fulfilment [came] by day; whereas Beth Hillel say: 
Both intention and fulfilment were by day. R. Simeon 



1 The people, who carry on the world. 

2 Y.T. : Resh Lakish holds that heaven and earth are equal units in the 
universe, and both were created to carry out the design of the Divine 
Architect. Therefore he compares it to a ship, all whose parts co-operate 
in the one purpose of making it go. R. Johanan, however, holds that 
heaven plays the major role in God's scheme, earth being subsidiary to 
it. He thus compares the universe to a building in which the lower 
stories serve as a support to the upper ones. 

a Lit. ' casts a lump of material ' — whether of metal (as is obviously 

meant here) or glass. 

4 How strange that these two verses follow each other : what is the 

connection between them ? 

6 Thus this proves the statement of Resh Lakish. 

98 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XII. 14-16 

b. Yohai observed: I am astonished! How could the fathers 
of the world, Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, differ over 
the creation of heaven and earth ! In truth, intention [was 
conceived] both by day and by night, while the fulfilment 
was at the standstill of the sun. 1 

15. ...The Lord God [made earth and 
heaven]. This may be compared to a king who had some 
empty glasses. Said the king: 'If I pour hot water into 
them, they will burst; if cold, they will contract [and snap].' 
What then did the king do ? He mixed hot and cold water 
and poured it into them, and so they remained [unbroken]. 
Even so, said the Holy One, blessed be He: 'If I create 
the world on the basis of mercy alone, its sins will be great ; 
on the basis of judgment alone, the world cannot exist. 
Hence I will create it on the basis of judgment and of mercy, 
and may it then stand ! ' Hence the expression, The 
Lord God. 2 

16. Earth and heaven. This may be compared to 
a legion which was the first to proclaim the king. 3 Said the 
king : ' Since this legion was the first to proclaim me king, 
I will give it a preferment which shall never be taken from 
it/ Even so said the Holy One, blessed be He : ' Because the 
earth was the first to fulfil My desire, 4 I will confer an 
honour upon her of which she will never be deprived.' 
Hence it is written, Who didst establish the earth upon its 
foundations, that it should not he moved for ever and ever 
(Ps. civ, s). 5 

1 Jast. : the time in the morning and the evening when the sun appears 
to stand still or be silent — dawn and sunset, immediately after the 
intention. 

2 The Rabbis hold that Adonai (the Tetragrammaton) refers to God under 
His Attribute of Mercy, while Elohim describes Him as a God of 
judgment. 3 Before the other legions. This frequently happened in 
Rome under the Emperors. 4 Cf. supra, vni, 8, 9. 

B This is to explain why earth is mentioned here before heaven. 



99 



XIII. 1-2] 

Chapter XIII (BERESHITH) 

I. NO TREE [E.V. 'SHRUB'] OF THE FIELD WAS 

yet in the earth (n, 5). Here you say, No tree 
of the field, etc., yet further on you read, And the 
Lord God had made to grow out of the ground, etc. (tb. 9) P 1 
Said R. Hanina : The verse below refers to the Garden of 
Eden, 2 whereas this refers to the inhabited world. 3 R. 
Hiyya taught: In both places nothing grew until rain 
descended upon them. 4 

2. No siah (tree) of the field, etc. All the 
trees, as it were, conversed {masihim) with each other; 
all the trees, as it were, conversed with mankind ; all the 
trees were created for man's companionship. 5 A man 
once gathered in the fruits of his vineyard and spent the 
night in it; then the wind blew 6 and caused him hurt. 7 
All the conversation of mankind concerns the earth: 
'Has the earth produced, or has the earth not produced?* 8 
And all mankind's prayers concern the earth: 'Lord! 

1 The first verse implies that there was no plant-life yet on the sixth 
day (this being regarded as a continuation of Ch. 1), while the second 
states that God had already made to grow, etc. (the Midrash treats the 
verb as pluperfect, in accordance with I, iz, which implies that plant 
life had already appeared on the third day). Cf. Hul. 60b. 

2 As appears from the rest of this verse and the following one. 

3 As distinct from the Garden of Eden. 

4 He reconciles the verses thus: The earth was endowed with plant-life 
on the third day, but the trees and herbs only reached the surface of the 
ground, until rain descended (in answer to Adam's prayer) and made 
them grow. 

5 Others : were created for man's hurt — i.e. he must take steps to protect 
himself from them. This reading is more in accordance with the story 
that follows.— The passage is based on the use of siah for tree instead of the 
more usual 'ez; hence the Midrash connects it with the verb siah to 
speak, converse. The sighing of the wind in the trees is poetically con- 
ceived as their speech. 

6 Others: then a spirit came — the spirits that dwell in trees. 

7 Mah. and 'E.J.: the fruit on the trees protects man from the wind that 
blows through them; hence when this man had gathered the grapes, 
leaving the vines bare, they no longer afforded protection. M.K. inter- 
prets: though the trees are primarily for man's benefit, yet they some- 
times harm him, as in the story quoted. 8 This passage was possible 
only in a community essentially agricultural, such as was Palestine Jewry. 

IOO 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIII. 2~5 

may the earth yield [fruit]'; or 'Lord, may the earth be 
successful ! ' All the prayers of Israel, however, are for the 
Temple : ' Lord, may the Temple be rebuilt ! ' and ' When 
will the Temple be rebuilt?' 1 

3. For the Lord God had not caused it to 
rain upon the earth. The full Name [of God] is 
employed in connection with a full world; it is similarly 
employed in connection with the fall of rain. 2 R. Simeon b. 
Yohai said: Three things are equal in importance, viz., 
earth, man, and rain. R. Levi b. Hiyyatha said : And these 
three each consist of three letters, 3 to teach that without 
earth there would be no rain and without rain earth could 
not endure; while without either man could not exist. 

4. R. Hoshaya said : Wonderful is the might of rain, for 
it is reckoned as equivalent to the whole of creation. What is 
the proof? — Who doeth great things and unsearchable (Job v, 
9) ; wherewith ? By Giving rain upon the earth and sending 
waters upon the fields (ib. 10). 4 R. Aha proved it from the 
following : He that hath made the earth by His power, etc. 
(Jer. x, 12). At the sound of His giving a multitude of waters 
in the heavens (ib. 13). 5 Now 'sound' signifies nought but 
rain, as you read: Deep calleth unto deep at the sound of 
Thy cataracts (Ps. xlii, 8). 

5. R. Isaac said: It [rain] is evidence of propitiation, 
even as are sacrifices, as it is written, Lord, Thou hast 
been favourable unto Thy land (Ps. lxxxv, 2). 6 R. Simon said : 

1 Here siah is connected with prayer; cf. And poureth out his petition 
(siho) before the Lord (Ps. en, 1), while field is made to refer to the 
Temple; cf. infra, xxn, 7. 

2 God's full name, ' Lord God/ appears the first time in 11, 4, after the 
world has been completed ; similarly it is mentioned here, because rainfall 
is as important as the whole of creation, which is dependent on it. 

* In Hebrew: dw, dik, riK. 

4 Thus these constitute 'great things and unsearchable*, which term is 
also applied to the creation ; v. Ta'an. za. 5 Thus the two are equated. 
6 Thou hast been favourable means with rain. Rain is withheld until God 
has allowed Himself to be propitiated for Israel's sins and forgiven them, 
this being also the object of sacrifices (Th. on the basis of Ta'an. jb). 
Others translate and explain differently. 

IOI 



XIII. 5~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

It will gather in the dispersed exiles 1 : Thou hast turned 
the captivity of Jacob (ib.). R. Johanan said: It dissipates 
[God's] wrath: Thou hast withdrawn all Thy wrath (ib. 4). 
R. Tanhum b. rjanilai said : It makes atonement for sins, 2 for 
it is said, Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people (ib. 3). 3 

6. R. Hiyya b. Abba said: It is as important as resur- 
rection. R. Abba, son of R. Hiyya, said: The Sages too 
inserted it [the prayer for rain] in the blessing of the 
resurrection of the dead, 4 for 'hand* and 'opening' are 
used in connection with both. ' Hand ' in connection with 
the one [resurrection] : The hand of the Lord was upon me 
(Ezek. xxxvii, i) 5 ; and 'hand' in connection with the other 
[rain]: Thou openest Thy hand, and satisfiest every living 
thing with favour (Ps. cxlv, 16). 'Opening' in connection 
with the one [rain] : The Lord will open unto thee His good 
treasure the heaven to give the rain of thy land (Deut. 
xxviii, 12); 'opening* in connection with the other [re- 
surrection]: Behold, I will open your graves (Ezek. ib. 12). 
R. Judan said in R. Eleazar's name: 'Song' is mentioned 
in connection with both. 'Song' in connection with the 
one: Let those who dwell in the rock sing (Isa. xlii, n) 6 ; 
' song ' in connection with the other [rain] : Thou hast 
remembered the earth, and watered her . . . The valleys also 
are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing 
(Ps. lxv, 10, 14). R. rjiyya b. Ba said: It is greater than 
resurrection, for whereas resurrection is for man alone, 
this is for man and beast ; again, resurrection is for Israel, 
whereas this is for Israel and the nations. 7 

1 'E.J. : it is as beneficial as the gathering of the exiles. 

2 Probably this is similar in meaning to R. Isaac's teaching. 

3 All these follow ' Thou hast been favourable* , and are therefore regarded 
as indicating the influence or value of rain. 

4 The second blessing of the * Eighteen benedictions ', known as the 
*Amidah t which form the principal part of the daily service. 

5 This commences the narrative which relates the resurrection of the 
dry bones. 6 Those who dwell in the rock are the buried dead: they 
are to sing when they are resurrected. 

7 Y.T. : These symbolise the righteous and the wicked respectively, in 
accordance with the actual $ext in Ta'an. 7a, for the righteous of the 
Gentiles, too, will share in resurrection. 

102 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIII. 6-9 

A certain Gentile asked R. Joshua, observing to him: 
'You have festivals and we have festivals; we do not 
rejoice when you do, and you do not rejoice when we do. 1 
When then do we both rejoice together?' 'When the rain 
descends/ What is the proof? The meadows are clothed with 
flocks (tb.); what follows? Shout unto God, all the earth 
(Ps. lxvi, 1): not priests, Levites, or Israelites is written 
here but, 'All the earth,' 

R. Joshua b. Levi said: When rain falls [i.e. in spring], 
cattle long to rut. What is the proof? The rams clothe the 
flocks, etc., i.e. the males go up on the ewes, this being 
a more refined expression. 

7. AND THERE WAS NOT A MAN TO TILL (LA'ABOD) 

the ground (n, 5): i.e. there is no man to make men 
serve (le'abbed) the Holy One, blessed be He, as Elijah 
did. 2 What, there is no man to inspire service to the Lord ? 3 
— Man was created for nought but toil : if he is deserving, 
he toils in the Torah; if not, he labours in the soil. Happy 
is the man whose toil is in the Torah ! 4 

8. The Lord God caused it to rain upon the 
earth, though there was not A man: a covenant 
has been made with the earth, as it says, To cause it to rain 
on a land where no man is, on the wilderness, wherein is no 
man (Job xxxviii, 26). 5 

9. But there went up a mist from the earth, 
etc. (11, 6). All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not 

1 Since our festivals do not coincide. 

2 The verse implies that rain falls for the sake of man. Hence when there 
is a drought, we must assume that the reason is because no man inspires 
service to God; this follows from reading le'abbed (to cause to serve) 
instead of la'abod, to serve (E.V. 'till'). 

3 Surely that is not the meaning of the verse ! 

* The verse is rendered thus : And when there is no man to make (men) 
serve (God), then they serve the ground (Th.). 

6 Theodor: Scripture writes, For the Lord God had not caused it to rain 
and there was not a man, etc., yet continues (v. 6) :" but there zvent up a 
mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. Thus even 
before man's creation there was rain, because a covenant, etc., i.e. rain, 
is a part of the scheme of Nature as created by God and is independent 
of man. 

103 



XIII. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

full (EccL i, 7). R. Eliezer and R. Joshua were once 
travelling on the great sea, 1 when their ship entered a non- 
flowing stretch of water. 2 Said R. Eliezer to R. Joshua: 
'We have come here simply for a test/ 3 Thereupon they 
filled a barrel of water from there. When they arrived in 
Rome, Hadrian asked them, 'What is the nature of the 
water of the Ocean [i.e. the Mediterranean] ? ' 'It is water 
that absorbs other water,' replied they. 4 'Show [i.e. prove] 
it to me,' he demanded. [They filled] a flaskful of that and 
poured more [ordinary] water therein, and the former 
absorbed it. In the opinion of R. Eliezer, thither they return 
(ib.) [is the essential meaning of the verse] ; in the opinion 
of R. Joshua, it is, 'thither they return to go on' (ib.). 5 

How did the earth drink? 6 R. Judah, R. Nehemiah, and 
the Rabbis gave different answers. R. Judah said: Like 
the Nile which repeatedly waters [the land of Egypt]. 7 
R. Nehemiah said : Like a flood, like the Kebaria that grows 
and inundates. 8 The Rabbis said: Like an overflowing river 
(tuway); there is a river in Babylonia named Tuway. 9 
Even so did the earth drink: at first, There went 

UP A MIST FROM THE EARTH, AND WATERED THE 

1 I.e. the Mediterranean. 

2 Lit. translation; i.e. the water was quite stationary, and the vessel 
could not make its normal progress. 

3 It is the work of Providence that we have come to this place, so that we 
can carry out a test with this water, to prove that it possesses peculiar 
properties which corroborate the Scriptural assertion. 

* For that reason it never becomes full, though all the rivers flow into it. 

8 This is difficult. 'Rashi' : R. Eliezer, who suggested this test, knew the 
property of this water, though he had never been there before. The reason 
was that he interpreted the phrase thither they return as meaning that all 
waters discharge into the Ocean and remain there; hence the Ocean does 
not overflow only because it absorbs what it receives. R. Joshua, however, 
did not suggest this trial because he interpreted the verse, ' thither they 
return in order to go ori, i.e. they enter at one point and flow out at 
another, eventually continuing their course in other rivers; hence he 
was not bound to R. Eliezer' s assumption. A different text in cur. edd. 
giyes rise to an entirely different explanation by commentaries. 

6 M .K. : before the advent of rain. 

7 By its annual overflow. Similarly, the mist went up and watered the 
ground. 8 The river I£ebaria has not been identified. 

9 Theodor thinks that the text is corrupt and suggests that it should be 
emended: R. Nehemiah said: Like the Kebaria; the Rabbis say: Like 
an overflowing river. 

IO4 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIII. 9-1 1 

whole face of the ground; but the Holy One, 
blessed be He, reconsidered the matter and decided that 
it should drink from above only. R. IJanan of Sepphoris 
said in the name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: On account of 
four things did the Holy One, blessed be He, subsequently 
decide that the earth should drink only from above : first, 
because of lawless men 1 ; secondly, in order to wash away 
obnoxious vapours ; thirdly, that the highlands might drink 
equally with the lowlands ; and fourthly, that all might lift 
their eyes heavenwards; thus it is written, That the lowly 
may lift [their eyes] heavenwards (Job v, n). 2 

10. And whence does the earth drink? R. Eliezer and 
R. Joshua disagree. R. Eliezer said : From the waters of the 
Ocean, for it is written, But there went up a mist 
from the earth and watered, etc. Said R. Joshua 
to him : But surely the waters of the Ocean are salty ! They 
are sweetened in the clouds, replied he, for it is written, 
Which the skies distil {ib. xxxvi, 28) : where are they dis- 
tilled [i*e. sweetened]? In the skies [clouds]. R. Joshua 
said: [The earth drinks] from the upper waters, for it is 
written, And drinketh water as the rain of heaven cometh 
down (Deut. xi, n); the clouds, however, mount up to 
heaven and receive them [the waters] as from the mouth of 
a bottle, for it is written, They gather up (yazokku) water into 
its cloud (ib.). 3 They distil it as from a sieve, not one drop 
touches another, for it is written, Distilling waters from 
the thick clouds (11 Sam. xxii, 12). 4 Why are they [the clouds] 
called shehakim? Resh Lakish said: Because they break 
up (shohakim) the [mass of] water [into rain drops]. Said R. 
Abba b. Kahana : They do this like the entrails of an animal. 5 

11. R. Johanan and Resh Lakish discussed this. R. 
Johanan said: Clouds come from above, as it is written, 

1 Who would steal other people's water if it were gathered on the ground. 

2 E.V. ' So that He setteth up on high those that are low* 

3 E.V. c Which distil rain from his vapour.' Here, however, yazo kfcu is 
connected with zifya, a water gourd, and the verse is translated: they 
gather water like a gourd. * E.V. ' Gathering of waters, thick clouds.' 
* Which break up the food in the process of digestion. 



XIII. 11-12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

And, behold, with the clouds of heaven (Dan. vn, 13). Resh 
Lavish maintained: Clouds come from below, for it says, 
Who causeth the vapours [clouds] to ascend from the ends of 
the earth (Ps. cxxxv, 7). In the view of R. Johanan it is 
like a man who presented his neighbour with a cask of 
wine together with the vessel. 1 In the view of Resh 
Lakish it is like a man who asked his neighbour, ' Lend me 
a se'ah of wheat/ to which he replied, 'Bring your basket 
and come and measure it out.' Similarly, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, says to the earth: 'Bring your clouds and 
receive rain/ 

12. It [the cloud] has five names: 'ab, ed, 'anan, nasi, 
haziz. 'Ab (thick): because it thickens [i.e. darkens] 
the face of the sky, as it is said, The thick clouds ( r abe) of the 
skies (11 Sam. xxn, 12). Ed: But there went 

UP A CLOUD (ED) FROM THE EARTH: [it is SO 

called] because it discomfits the speculators. 2 'Anan: 
because it makes men meek ('anawim) towards each other. 3 
And it is written, 'With the clouds of ('anane) heaven.'* 
Nasi: Who causeth the clouds (nesi'im) to ascend (Ps. cxxxv, 
7) : [it is so called] because it makes men princes (nesi'im) 
towards each other. 5 Haziz: And a way for the cloud 
(haziz E.V. * storm') of thunders (Job xxvin, 26): so 
called because it achieves [awe-inspiring] sights 6 in the 



1 Similarly, God supplies both the clouds from above and their rain. 

2 Ed (tx) is identified with ed (t»k)i calamity, destruction, in Deut, 
xxxii, 35 : For the day of their destruction (edam) is at hand. Rain, by 
increasing the crops, frustrates the speculators who wish to force up 
prices. 

3 The realisation that all are dependent on it naturally tends to reduce 
their arrogance. Or as Mah.: One man may have a successful barley 
crop, another a successful wheat harvest, so that each needs the other. 

4 The relevance of this verse is not apparent; perhaps he translates: 
With the meek ones (sc. the angels) of the heaven. Possibly, however, 
it is misplaced, and should be quoted at the beginning; 'anan, as it is 
written, i With the clouds of ('anane) heaven.' The edd. omit it altogether. 

5 Either in the sense of independent of each other, because produce is 
very cheap when the rain has caused an abundant harvest; or arrogant, 
when one man's crops are successful while the other man's are a failure, 
and so he must become a suppliant of the other. 

6 IJezyonoth fr. Jnzzayon* 

I06 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIII. 12-13 

sky 1 and causes the Holy Spirit to rest upon men, as you 
read, The vision (hazon) of Isaiah (Isa. I, i). 

R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: It [the earth] has four 
names: erez, tebel, adamah, arka. The name erez corre- 
sponds to the vernal equinox which forces up (me^alzah) 
the crops 2 ; tebel, to the summer solstice which lends savour 
to (me-tabbeleth) the crops; adamah, to the autumn, 
when the ground consists of clods of earth {adamatif\ 
arka corresponds to the winter 4 which causes the crops to 
wither (moreketh). 

13. How much rain must descend that it may suffice 
for fructification 5 ? As much as would fill a vessel of three 
handbreadths. 6 This is R. Meir's opinion. R. Judah said: 
In hard [soil], one handbreadth; in average [soil], two; in 
humid [soil], three. 7 R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: Not one 
handbreadth [of rain] descends from above without the 
earth bringing up two handbreadths [of moisture] to meet 
it. What is the proof? Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of 
Thy cataracts (Ps. xlii, 8). 8 R. Levi said: The upper 
waters are male while the lower are female, 9 and they say 
one to the other : ' Receive us ; you have been created by the 
Holy One, blessed be He, whilst we are His messengers/ 
Immediately they receive them; thus it is written, Let the 
sky pour down righteousness ; let the earth open (Isa. xlv, 8) — 
like a female who receives the male; That they may bring 

1 The clouds causing the sky to assume various colours (v. supra, iv, 7) . 

2 This connects erez with alez, to force. s The summer heat breaks up 
the ground and then the autumn rain kneads it into moist clods. 

* Lit. the solstice of Tebeth. Tebeth is the tenth month, generally falling 
from about the middle of December to the middle of January. 
6 J. Ber. ix states that one must recite a blessing for rain when it descends 
in sufficient measure for fructification (reb'iah). 

6 Var. lee: As would fill the ploughing implement of three hand- 
breadths. The plough dug three handbreadths into the soil, and this 
means that the rain too must penetrate this distance. 

7 There must be enough rain to penetrate three handbreadths into 
humid (lit. ' sated ' — with moisture) soil, two into average soil, and one 
into hard soil. 

8 Deep calleth unto deep implies two parts from below as against the one 
part implied in at the voice of Thy cataracts, which refers to the rain from 
above. • V. supra, 11, 4; v, 4. 

107 



XIII. I3-I53 MIDRASH RABBAH 

forth (we-yifru) salvation (ib,)— in that they are fruitful 
(parim) and multiply 1 ; And let her cause righteousness to 
spring up together; I the Lord have created it (ib.) : this 
refers to the fall of rain. 'I the Lord have created it' : I 
have created it for the benefit and stability of the world. 

14. R. Berekiah said: When there ascended contrition 
from the earth, then straightway It watered the 
whole face of the ground. 2 That is consistent 
with R. Berekiah's view, for R. Berekiah said: My doctrine 
(likhi) shall drop (ya'arof) as rain (Deut. xxxn, 2) means: 
let men break their stubbornness, and the rain shall 
immediately descend. 3 R. Menahma said in Rabin's name: 
In the Diaspora they are called 'the broken-necked people", 
for they break their necks [i.e. repent] and straightway 
rain descends. 

15. How much rain must fall for one to recite a blessing? 4 
R. Jose said in Rab Judah's name, and R. Jonah and Rab 
Judah said in Samuel's name: At the beginning, as much 
as will fructify [the earth]; at the end, even just a little. 5 
R. IJiyya said in R. Johanan's name: At the beginning, 
sufficient to fructify; at the end, enough to wash the 
surface of the roof tiles. R. Jannai b. Ishmael said in the 
name of Resh Lakish: At the beginning, sufficient to 

1 Yifru is derived from par ah, to be fruitful. 

2 R. Berekiah, too, connects ed, cloud, with ed t destruction, and he 
translates thus: Let there ascend from the earth the breaking of one's 
evil desires (or, the breaking of one's stubbornness against repentance), 
and then it shall water, etc. 

8 He derives ya-'arof from 'araf, to break the neck (cf . Deut. xxi, 7 : 
we-'arpu, and they shall break the heifer's neck) ; while 'neck' is a synonym 
for stubbornness in sin, cf . Ex. xxxn, 9, referring to the making of the 
golden calf; It is a stiff necked (keshe 'oref) people. Thus he translates: 
When My doctrine (or, teaching) shall break down their stubbornness, 
there shall be rain. 4 V. p. 107, n. 5. 

5 Theodor: 'At the beginning' and 'at the end* mean when the rain 
commences, and when it has already fallen respectively. Mah.: In the 
latter case the rain is more necessary, and so a blessing must be said even 
for a small quantity. 'E.J.: Because at the end the earth is already sated 
(therefore even a small rainfall is effective). 'Rashi': 'At the end' means 
at the second rainfall (reb'iah); v. Ta'an. 66. 

108 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIII. 15-16 

fructify; at the end, enough to dissolve the bung [stopper]. 1 
But no matter how much rain descends the bung is not 
dissolved ! 2 But it must look as though it were dissolved. 

How must one say the blessing? 3 Even as we learned: 
For rain and for good tidings one recites the blessing, 
'[Blessed is He] who is good and doeth good/ 4 R. Berekiah 
in the name of R. Levi derived this from the following: 
As cold water to a faint soul, so is good news from a far 
country (Prov. xxv, 25) : just as for good news [one says], 
'Blessed is He who is good and doeth good/ so for cold 
water [i.e. rain] one recites the blessing, 'Blessed is He 
who is good and doeth good/ 5 Rab Judah said: Thus did 
my father Ezekiel give praise: 'Thy Name be blessed, 
exalted, and magnified, for every single drop which Thou 
bringest down to us and keepest apart one from the other/ 6 
R. Judan b. R. Simeon said: [He can keep them apart] 
because He causes them to fall in measure, [as it is written], 
For He draweth away (yigra') the drops of water (Job 
xxxvi, 27) [' yigra' ' being used] in the sense of And an 
abatement shall be made (we-nigra') from thy valuation 
(Lev. xxyn, 18). 7 

R. Jose b. Jacob went up to visit R. Judan of Magdala 8 
[in sickness], when he heard his voice blessing [God]: 
'We must give thanks to Thy name countless times 9 for 
every single drop which Thou causest to descend for us, 
wherewith Thou requitest good to the unworthy/ Said he 
to him: 'Thus did R. Simon recite the blessing/ 

R. Ze'ira said: Elsewhere we learnt: When cheapness 
rules in the world or a river [overflows and] supplies a 
country [with water], one recites: 'Blessed is He who is 
good and doeth good/ 

16. And watered the whole [face of the 
ground]. R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Jose b. 

x The clay bung of a cask. 2 It is much too strong and firm. 

8 What is the formula? 4 Ber. 54a; infra, lvii, 2. 

5 R. Berekiah quotes the verse to explain why good tidings and rain are 
generally coupled in the sources. 

6 V. B.B. 1 6a. 7 V. supra, rv, 5. 8 Near Tiberias. 

9 Lit. 'a thousand thousand and ten thousand ten thousand.* 

109 



XIII. 16-17] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Zimra: Everything is blessed [by rain]: Commerce is 
blessed and merchants 1 profit. 2 R. Johanan b. Levi said: 
The feeble too are relieved. R. Hiyya b. Abba said : The 
sick too are relieved, for their limbs become more supple. 
Abimi, a member of [a sick visiting] society, used to visit 
the sick. When rain fell R. Hiyya b. Ba would ask him: 
' How are they [the sick] faring ? ' to which he would answer : 
'They feel relieved.' Rabbi said: Even a precious stone 
feels [the rain]. 3 The Rabbis said: Fish too feel it. R. 
Phinehas related: It once happened at Acco that a fish 
was caught and judged to weigh three hundred litras, 
yet when they weighed it it was only two hundred. An 
old fisherman who was present said to them, 'That is 
because rain has not fallen/ After rain fell they caught 
a fish and estimated it at two hundred litras, yet on weighing 
it they found it to be three hundred litras! 

17. Face of the ground. R. Eleazar b. Simeon 
said: The earth drinks only as far as its upper layer. 4 
If so, what are the roots of the sycamore tree and the roots 
of the carob tree to do? 5 [Moreover], R.Iianina b. Ikah and 
R. Berekiah in the name of R. Judah said: The roots of 
wheat strike down fifty cubits into the earth ; the soft roots 
of the fig-tree break through the rock? Said R. Levi: 
Once in thirty days the deep ascends and waters it. What is 
the proof? / the Lord do guard it, I water it at certain 
moments (Isa. xxvn, 3). 6 

R. Joshua b. Levi said : When the rain descends it makes 
a face for the ground. 7 

1 M.K. and 'Rashi*. Theodor prefers a different reading, panaaia: 
the feeble-footed, those suffering with gout (podagra). 

2 Or, according to Th.: are relieved. 
s Its lustre increases. 

* This follows from the phrase Face of the ground. 
B They go deeper than the crust. 

6 Viz. once in thirty days. E.V. 'every moment*. 

7 By covering it with plant life, whereas formerly it was bare. This too 
is deduced from Face. 



IIO 



[XIV. 1-2 

Chapter XIV (BERESHITH) 

i. Then the Lord God formed man, etc. (n, 
7). The king by justice establisheth the land, but a man of 
gifts (terumoth) overthroweth it (Prov. xxix, 4). ' The king' 
refers to the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed 
be He; ' By justice establisheth the land' means that He 
created the world on the basis of justice, as it is written, 
In the beginning Elohim (E.V. 'God') created (Gen. 1, i) 1 ; 
'But the man of gifts overthroweth it' refers to Adam, who 
was the hallah, the completion of the world, 2 while hallah 
is designated terumah, as it is written, Of the first of your 
dough ye shall set apart hallah (E.V. 'a cake 3 ) for a gift — 
terumah (Num. xv, 20). R. Jose b. Kezarta 3 said: Like a 
woman who mixes her dough with water and separates 
hallah from the very centre, even so, at first, There went 
up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the 
ground, and then The Lord God formed man of 

THE DUST OF THE GROUND. 

2. Wayyiyzer (heformed). This connotes two 
formations, viz. that of Adam and that of Eve. 4 [Another 
interpretation]: There is a viable birth at nine [months] 
and a viable birth at seven [months]. R. Huna said: When 
the foetus is so formed as to be born at seven months, 5 
and it is born either at seven or at nine months, it is viable ; 
if born at eight months, it cannot live. When it is formed 
so as to be born at nine but yet it is born at seven months, 
it cannot live, and all the more so if it is born at eight 
months. 6 R. Abbahu was asked: 'How do we know that 
when the foetus is fully developed at seven months it is 

1 Elohim being His name as a God of justice; v. supra, xn, 15, 

2 J. Shab. 11 explains : When a woman has poured water on the flour she 
separates hallah. Similarly, when God poured water on to the dust of 
the ground He separated hallah, which was man; v. also infra, xvn, 8. 
— The underlying idea is that man is the most sacred part of creation. 

3 Possibly: R. Jose the son of a laundress. 

4 This section gives various explanations why Scripture writes isr*! 
with two yods, instead of nici with one yod, as it is written in v. 19, 
in reference to animals. 5 I.e. it is decreed at its formation that it 
should require nine months for its full development. 

• So Th., M.K., 'Rashi,' and Mah. Y.T. and Y.M. translate differently. 

Ill 



XIV. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

viable?' 'From your own [language] I will prove it to you, 
replied he: 'Live, seven; go, eight.' 1 

3. Wayyiyzer: There were two formations, [one 
partaking of the nature] of the celestial beings, [the other] 
of earthly creatures. R. Joshua said in the name of R. 
liananiah, and the Rabbis in the name of R. Eleazar: 
He created him with four attributes of the higher beings 
[i.e. the angels] and four of the lower creatures [i.e. 
beasts]. [His attributes of the lower creatures are]: he 
eats and drinks, like animals; procreates, like animals; 
excretes, like animals ; and dies, like animals. [His celestial 
attributes are]: he stands upright, like the ministering 
angels; and speaks, understands, and sees, like the 
ministering angels. But does not a dumb animal see? 
This one [man] can see from the side. R. Tifdai said in 
R. Aha's name: The celestial beings were created in the 
image and likeness [of God] and do not procreate, while 
the terrestial creatures procreate but were not created in 
[His] image and likeness. Said the Holy One, blessed be 
He: ' Behold, I will create him [man] in [My] image and 
likeness; [thus he will partake] of the [character of the] 
celestial beings, while he will procreate [as is the nature] 
of the terrestial beings.' R. Tifdai [also] said in R. Aha's 
name : The Lord reasoned : 'If I create him of the celestial 
elements he will live [for ever] and not die; while if I 
create him of the terrestial elements, he will die and not 
live [in a future life]. Therefore I will create him of the 
upper and the lower elements ; if he sins he will die, and if 
he dies he will live [in the future life].' 2 

4. Wayyiyzer: two formations, the good and the 
evil. 3 For if an animal possessed two [such] formations, it 

1 trjra, the Greek letter Zeta, whose numerical value is seven, is 
phonetically like £-7™, let it live! while fjra (the letter 1?), whose 
numerical value is eight, sounds like ltoo, let it go ! (i.e. die). 

2 For the whole passage v. supra, vin, 11. 

8 This generally means the good and the evil side of man's nature. 
Here, however, the context shows that it means: discernment of what 
is good and what is evil — in a physical and material sense. 

112 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIV. 4-5 

would die of fright on seeing a man holding a knife to kill 
it. But surely a man does possess these two faculties! 1 
Said R. Hanina (rjinena) b. Idi: He bound up 2 the spirit 
of man within him (Zech. xu, 1) ; for if that were not so, 
whenever a trouble came upon him he would remove and 
cast it from him. 3 

5. Wayyiyzer: two formations, one in this world 
and one in the future world. 4 The School of Shammai and 
the School of Hillel disagree. The School of Shammai 
maintain: His formation in the next world will not be like 
that of this world. In this world skin and flesh are formed 
first, the sinews and bones last; but in the future he will 
commence with sinews and bones and finish with the skin 
and flesh, for thus it says in connection with the dead of 
Ezekiel : And I beheld, and, lo, there were sinews upon them, 
and flesh came up, and skin covered them above (Ezek. 
xxxvii, 8). Said R. Jonathan: We cannot learn from the 
dead of Ezekiel, for what did they resemble? A man who 
enters a bath: what he takes off first he puts on last. The 
School of Hillel said: Just as he is formed in this world, 
so will he be formed in the next world. In this world the 
skin and flesh come first, the sinews and bones last; so 
in the future will he begin with the skin and flesh and end 
with the sinews and bones. For thus says Job : Wilt Thou 
not pour me out as milk and curdle me like cheese? Thou wilt 
clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones 
and sinews (Job x, 10 f.). 5 He does not say, 'Thou didst 
pour me out . . . and didst curdle me,' but ' Thou wilt pour 
me out . . . and wilt curdle me\ It is not written here, ' Thou 
hast clothed me with skin and flesh,' but ' Thou wilt clothe 
me', etc. ; it is not written, 'And with bones and sinews Thou 
hast knit me together, 3 but 'Thou wilt knit me together 1 . 
Imagine a bowl full of milk: before rennet is put into it 

1 Yet he does not die of fright under similar circumstances. 

2 E.V. 'formed' ; yozer is derived here from zarar, to tie up. 
s Sc. the spirit or soul within him which sustains life. 

* At the resurrection. 5 Lit. translation. E.V. has the past, but the 

Midrash here points out that the future tense is used, not the past. 

113 1 



XIV. 5"7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the milk is loose [liquid], but when rennet is put into it, 
the milk curdles and sets. Thus Job said : ' Wilt Thou not 
pour me out as milk . . . skin and flesh ' . . . Thou hast granted 
me life and favour (ib. 12). 1 

6. [Then the Lord God formed] the man: for 
the sake of Abraham. 2 R. Levi said: It is written, The 
greatest man among the Anakim (Josh, xiv, 15) : 'man' means 
Abraham, and why is he called the greatest man ? Because 
he was worthy of being created before Adam, 3 but the 
Holy One, blessed be He, reasoned: 'He may sin and 
there will be none to set it right. Hence I will create Adam 
first, so that if he sins, Abraham may come and set things 
right/ R. Abba b. Kahana said: In general practice, when 
a man joints a pair of beams [so that they meet] at a slope, 4 
where does he place them? Surely in the middle of the 
chamber, so that they may support the beams in front and 
behind. Even so, why did the Lord create Abraham in the 
middle of generations? In order that he might bear the 
generations before and after him. R. Levi said: You bring 
a virtuous woman into the house of a corrupt one, 5 but you 
do not bring a corrupt woman into the house of a virtuous one. 

7. 'Afar (of the dust). R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said : [Read this] 'ofer (a young man) : he was created as a 
young man in his fulness. 6 R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: 
Eve too was created fully developed. R. Johanan said: 
Adam and Eve were created as at the age of twenty. R. 
Huna said: 'Afar (dust) is masculine, while adamah 
(ground) is feminine: a potter takes male dust [coarse 

1 Cf. supra, iv, 8; Lev. R. xiv, 9. 

2 He interprets the def. art: THE man, i.e., the outstanding man, 
viz., Abraham; cf. supra, xn, 9; infra, xv, 4; Ex. R. xxvin, 1 et passim. 

3 V. Ecci. R. on Ch. in, 11. 

4 Thus giving them greater strength than if they were laid flat. 
e For the latter to learn from her. 

6 ' AFAR (dust) is superfluous, as Scripture could have stated, 
Then the Lord God formed man of the ground. By a play on words it is 
therefore connected with 'ofer ("iDiy)> a youth, strong man. 'Created 
in his fulness' means, with all his vigour and strength. 

114 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIV. 7-8 

earth] and female earth [soft clay] in order that his vessels 
may be sound. 1 

A son of one of the notables of Sepphoris happened to 
die. Some say that he [the father] was a heretic, while 
others say that a heretic lodged with him. R. Jose b. R. 
Halafta went up to visit him. He [the heretic], seeing him 
sitting and laughing, inquired, 'Why are you laughing?' 
' We trust in the God of heaven that you will see his [the 
dead son's] face in the future world,' he replied. 'Have I 
not enough trouble,' he exclaimed, 'that you have come to 
trouble me more! 2 Can broken potsherds be joined 
together ? For is it not thus written, Thou shalt dash them in 
pieces like a potter's vessel' (Ps. 11, 9)? He answered: 
'An earthen vessel is made from water* and finished off 
with heat, while a glass vessel is made from fire and finished 
with fire ; the one [sc. glass] when broken can be repaired, 
whereas the other [man] when broken cannot be repaired!' 4 
' [The glass vessel can be repaired] because it is made by 
blowing,' said the other. 'Let your ears hear what your 
mouth speaks!' he retorted. 'If what is made with the 
breath of a mere mortal can be repaired, how much the 
more what is made with the breath of the Holy One, 
blessed be He ! ' R. Isaac said : It is not written, ' Thou shalt 
dash them in pieces like earthen vessels,' but, 'Like a potter's 
vessels/ which means, those which have not yet been baked, 
so that they can be reformed [when broken]. 5 

8. Of the, ground (adamah) . R. Berekiah and 
R. Ilelbo in the name of Samuel the Elder said: He was 
created from the place of his atonement, 6 as you read, 
An altar of earth (adamah) thou shalt make unto me (Ex. xx, 

1 R. Huna interprets the combination of 'afar and adamah in this 
verse. 2 Or: has he not, etc. 3 Clay and mortar. 

* Would you really maintain that broken man (i.e. the dead) cannot be 
repaired, when you admit that a glass vessel can be. — In respect of an 
earthen vessel he argued that it naturally could not be repaired when 
broken, because the first step and the last in its manufacture are through 
mutually opposed elements, but man is rather like a glass vessel, as he 
proceeds to show. 6 Thus from the very verse he quoted he could have 
proved the possibility of resurrection. 6 The future site of the Temple. 

115 



XIV. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

21). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'Behold, I will 
create him from the place of his atonement, and may he 
endure ! * 

And He breathed into his nostrils. This 
teaches that He set him up as a lifeless mass reaching from 
earth to heaven and then infused a soul into him. 1 

Because in this world [he was endowed with life] by 
breathing [therefore he is mortal] ; but in the time to come 
he shall receive it as a gift, as it is written, And I will 
put My spirit into you, and ye shall live (Ezek. xxxvn, 14). 2 

9. The breath of (nishmath) life. It has five 
names 3 : nefesh, neshamah, hayyah, ruah, yehidah. Nefesh 
is the blood: For the blood is the nefesh — E.V. 'life' (Deut. 
xii, 23). Ruah: this is so called because it ascends and 
descends 4 : thus it is written, Who knoweth the ruah 
(E.V. 'spirit') of man whether it goeth upwards, and the 
ruah of the beast whether it goeth downward to the earth 
(Eccl. in, 21) ? 5 Neshamah is the breath; as people say, 
His breathing is good. 6 Hayyah (lit. 'living') 7 : because 
all the limbs are mortal, whereas this is immortal in the 
body. 8 Yehidah (unique) 9 : because all the limbs are 
duplicated, 10 whereas this is unique in the body. 

1 Cf . supra, viii, 1 . 2 Therefore he will be immortal. 
8 Deut. R. 11, 37. The five names may denote the different characteristics 
of the soul as the Rabbis understood it, or possibly some of these are 
conceived of as different things; v. Th. and Y.T. ad loc. 

4 Just as the wind (ruah) which travels about ('E.J.). 

5 Th.: nefesh and ruah are thus applied to both man and beast. With 
respect to ruah, the passage probably means : ruah is that which ascends 
in the case of man and descends in the case of beast, as it says, Who 
knoweth, etc. 6 Th. 'E.J.: neshamah denotes the character (disposi- 
tion), as people say, 'His character is good.' 

7 In the present verse: And man became nefesh tiayyah (E.V. 'a living 
soul'), hayyah possibly being treated as a substantive, not an adjective 
as in E.V. H Others: Because all the limbs are lifeless in themselves 
and this endows thern with life. 

8 In Ps. xxii, 21 : Deliver my soul from the sword, yehiidathi (— yehidah 
-h possessive suffix; E.V. 'mine only one') from the power of the dog. Cf. 
also Ps. xxxv, 17. 

10 E.g., eyes, ears, hands, feet. 'E.J. : The function of every limb is matched 
(or complemented) by that of another, whereas the function of this is 
unique and wholly distinct from the rest. 

n6 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIV. 9-IO 

Thus it is written, 1 If He set His heart upon man, if He 
gather unto Himself mho {his spirit) and nishmatho {his 
soul), all flesh shall perish together, and man shall return 
unto the dust (Job xxxiv, 14 f). R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah 
and the Rabbis discussed this. R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah 
interpreted it: 'If God set His heart upon any man,' 2 his 
spirit {ruho) is already in His hand 3 ; 'And if He gather 
his soul (nishmatho) unto him' [sc. man], which means, 
into his body, then all men had already perished 4 ; but when 
man is sleeping the soul {neshamah) warms the body so 
that it should not waste and die. The Rabbis interpret: 
1 1f God set His heart upon him,' i.e. upon any man, his 
spirit {ruho) is already in His hand, 'And if He gather his 
soul (nishmatho) unto Himself above, 5 then all men had 
already perished, but that when man sleeps the soul 
{neshamah) warms man that he should not grow cold and 
die. R. Bisni, R. Aha, and R. Johanan in R. Meir's name 
said: The neshamah (soul) fills the body, and when man 
sleeps it ascends and draws life for him from above. 
R. Levi said in R. Jianina's name: It repeatedly ascends. 6 
For every breath which a man takes 7 he must give praise 
to the Holy One, blessed be He. What is the reason? 
Let every neshamah {breathy praise the Lord (Ps. cl, 6), 
which means, for every breath [let one praise Him], 

10. And man became a nefesh hayyah (E.V. 
'living soul'). Judah b. Rabbi said": This teaches 9 

1 This is not connected with the preceding, but a separate comment on 
nishmath hayyim (E.V. ' the breath of life*), to show that life is dependent 
on the neshamah (Y.T., *EJ.). 2 To judge him. 

3 From the evening: When man goes to sleep he delivers his spirit 
(ruah) to God. 

4 I.e. if He concentrated man's soul in one part of his body instead of 
permitting it to pervade all his limbs. 

5 They translate, unto Him — to God, 

6 Not once only, but repeatedly ascends and re-enters man as he sleeps. 
Others: It returns to him (at each breath). 

7 Or possibly: every time that man recaptures his neshamah, which he 
does at each breath; v. preceding note. 

8 E.V. 'Let everything that hath breath.'. 

8 Sc. the word pyYAH, lit., 'beast,' 'animal/ 

117 



XIV. 10] MIDRASH RABBAH 

that He provided him with a tail, like an animal, but sub- 
sequently removed it from him for the sake of his dignity. 
R. Huna said : He made him like a slave set free for himself, 1 
who if he does not toil does not eat. 2 That is R. Huna's 
opinion, for R. Huna interpreted The Lord hath delivered 
me into their hands (bi-yede), against whom I am not able to 
stand (Lam. i, 14) : when my hands are at my own disposal 3 
I am not able to stand : they toil day and night, yet do not 
attain a sufficiency. 

R. Samuel, the son-in-law of R. Hanina, the colleague of 
the Rabbis, said : Here the neshamah (soul) is identified with 
nefesh, 4 whereas in another text the neshamah is equated 
with ruah. 5 How do we know that the statement of the one 
text is applicable to that of the other and vice versa ? 
Because 'life' (hayyim) is written in both texts, proving 
that they are analogous. 6 

1 Presumably: set free, so that he is now responsible for himself. Var. lee. 
(as interpreted by commentaries): as a being eternally enslaved to 
himself — man is a slave to his wants. 

2 He interprets the verse thus : And man became obliged to keep his 
nefesh, i.e. soul, alive, hayyah meaning living. 

3 Reading bi-yaddai. I.e. when I must bear my own responsibilities. 

4 Gen. ii, 7: He breathed into his nostrils nishmath hayyim (the 
neshamah — soul— of life) and man became nefesh hayyah (a living soul) ; 
thus nefesh is parallel to and the equivalent of neshamah. 

5 Gen. xvii, 22 : All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit (nishmath 
ruah) of life. 

6 Hence the neshamah (soul) is both nefesh and rudfy. 



11% 



[XV, i 
Chapter XV (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord God planted a garden 
eastward, in Eden (ii, 8). The School of Jannai 
said : Why is the full Name 1 mentioned in connection with 
this planting? Because from the very beginning of its 
creation it required careful selection : before a tree develops 
out of its seed 2 one must determine its extent. 3 

Thus it is written, 4 The trees of the Lord have their fill, 
the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted (Ps. civ, 16). 
R. Ilanina said: At first they were like locusts* horns 
[i.e. small and puny], and then the Holy One, blessed be 
He, uprooted and replanted them in the garden of Eden 5 ; 
hence it is written, ' The trees of the Lord have their fill,' etc. 
Said R. Hanina : They have their fill in life, they have their 
fill in water, they have their fill in planting. 6 

R. Johanan said: The world was not worthy to enjoy 
the use of cedars. Why then were cedars created ? For the 
sake of the Temple, as it is written, ' The trees of the Lord 
have their fill, the cedars of Lebanon': 'Lebanon* bears 
the same connotation as in the verse, That goodly hill- 
country, and Lebanon (Deut. m, 25). 7 

R. Samuel b. Nahman said in R. Jonathan's name: There 
are twenty-four kinds of cedar, 8 the best are seven, as it is 
written, i" will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia-tree, 

1 V. supra, xiii, 3. 

2 Lit. 'its mother's womb' — the seed out of which the tree grows. 

3 Great care must be taken before a tree is planted to determine the best 
soil and position for it, to allow for the spreading of its branches and roots. 
Hence it requires all man's forethought, and therefore God's full name 
is used here to imply that He too, as it were, bent all His thought to 
determine where to plant this garden. 

4 This has no connection with the preceding statement. 

5 He holds that 'And God planted' instead of 'And God created' implies 
that they were already in existence and growing elsewhere, and God 
replanted them in the garden of Eden. The verse quoted from the Psalms 
is also referred by him to the trees of the garden of Eden, for which 
reason they are called the trees of the Lord. 

6 I.e. whatever was planted from them would be like themselves. 

7 He interprets 'Lebanon' as a synonym for the Temple; cf. Lev. 
R. 1, 2. 8 * Cedar' is used here generically for trees. 

119 



XV. I~3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

and the myrtle, and the oil-tree; I will set in the desert 
the cypress, the plane-tree, and the larch together (Isa. xli, 
19). Rabbi said: They are but three 1 : berosh is the beratha 
(cypress) ; tidhar is the adara-tree 2 ; te'ashur is the box-tree. 
Why is it called te'ashur? The Rabbis say: Because it is 
the most valuable (me'ushar) of all. To these they added 
another three: alonim, armonin, almugin. Alonim are oak- 
trees ; armonin are plane-trees, and almugin are aloe-trees. 

2. A garden in Eden. R. Judah said: The Garden 
is larger than Eden, for it is written, So that all the trees 
of Eden, that is z in the garden of God, envied it (Ezek. xxxi, 
9) ; and it is also said, Thou wast in the Eden of the garden 
of God (ib. xxviii, 13). R. Jose said: Eden is larger than the 
garden, for it says, Then the Lord God planted 
a garden in Eden, etc. But surely it is written, And 
a river went out of Eden to water the garden (Gen. 11, 10)? 4 
On R. Jose's view, the drippings from a beth kor will water 
a tarkab 6 ; while on R. Judah's view, it is like a spring in 
the garden which waters the whole garden. 6 But R. Judah 
has two verses [to support his contention], whereas R. Jose 
has but one verse ? Said R. IJanan of Sepphoris : The Holy 
One, blessed be He, illumined R. Jose's eyes and he found 
a verse supporting his view, viz. And He hath made her 
wilderness (midbar) like Eden, and her desert ('arabah) 
like the garden of the Lord (Isa. li, 3). 7 

3. Mikkedem (E.V. 'Eastward'). R. Samuel b. 
Nahmani said: You may think that it means before 
(kodem) the creation of the world, but that is not so ; rather 

1 Those enumerated in the second half of the verse. 

2 Jast. : a species of cedar, probably Spanish juniper. 

3 E.V. 'that were', referring to the trees. But R. Judah relates 'that' 
to Eden. 

4 Implying that the garden was outside Eden, which contradicts R. Jose. 

6 Beth kor is a field requiring a kor of seed ; tarkab, one requiring three 
fcabs of seed; the latter is one-sixtieth of the former. He translates: 
And a stream of water drained off from Eden sufficient to water the 
garden which was in it; hence the garden was only one-sixtieth of Eden. 
6 Thus from the smaller area of Eden there flowed enough water to 
water the whole garden. 7 Midbar is larger than 'arabah. 

120 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XV. 3-5 

it is, before Adam, for Adam was created on the sixth day, 
whereas the garden of Eden was created on the third. Hence 
it is written, Yet God is my King, working salvation before- 
hand in the midst of the earth (Ps. lxxiv, 12); it was a 
gracious act on the part of the Holy One, blessed be He, 
that He prepared my reward for me before ever I arose 
to labour. 1 

4. And there He set (wayyasem) the man. 
R. Judah and R. Jeremiah each commented. R. Judah said: 
He exalted him, [wayyasem having the same meaning] 
as in the verse, Thou shalt in any wise set him (tasim) king 
over thee (Deut. xvii, 15). R. Nehemiah said: He per- 
suaded him [to enter and eat thereof], like a king who 
prepared a banquet and then invited guests. 

The man. For the sake of Abraham, 2 as it is written, 
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou under- 
standest my thought afar off (Ps. cxxxix, 2). 'My down- 
sitting* means in the garden of Eden; 'My uprising' — 
my expulsion thence ; ' Thou understandest my thought afar 
off' : for whose sake didst Thou determine to create me ? 3 
For the sake of him who came from afar [viz. Abraham], 
as it is written, Calling a bird of prey from the east y the man 
of My counsel from afar country (Isa. xlvi, n). 4 

5. And there He put the man whom He had 
formed; as you read, And there they are unto this day 
(11 Chron. v, C;). 5 R. Levi b. Zachariah said: Providing he 
stayed in this state of creation [i.e. without sin]. 

R. Isaac b. Merion said: It is written, These are the 
generations of heaven, etc. (Gen. n, 4). When their Creator 
praises them, who may disparage them ; when their Creator 
lauds them, who may find fault with them ? But they are 
comely and praiseworthy ; hence it is written, ' These are 

1 The fruits of the garden are man's reward for his toil, and they were 
created even before him. 2 V. supra, xrv, 6. 3 Cf. supra, vin, 3 f. 
4 From the east is referred to Abraham (cf. supra, 11, 3), who is likened to 
a bird of prey in point of swiftness; v. Rashx on Isa. ad loc. 
6 Thus there implies for all time. Hence man was created to be 
permanently in the Garden of Eden. 

121 



X V. 5~7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the generation of the heaven and of the earth when they were 
created.' 1 

6. And out of the ground made the Lord 
God to grow every tree that is pleasant to 

THE SIGHT, AND GOOD FOR FOOD; THE TREE OF 
LIFE ALSO IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN (il, 9). It 

was taught: It was a tree which spread over all 
living things. 2 R. Judah b. R. Ila'i said: The tree of life 
covered a five hundred years' journey, and all the 
primeval waters branched out in streams under it. R. 
Judan said in the name of R. Judah b. R. Ila'i : Not only its 
boughs but even its trunk 3 was a five hundred years' journey. 

7. And the tree of the knowledge of good 
and evil (ib.). What was the tree whereof Adam and 
Eve ate? R. Meir said: It was wheat, for when a person 
lacks knowledge people say, 'That man has never eaten 
bread of wheat.' R. Samuel b. Isaac asked R. Ze'ira: 'Is 
it possible that it was wheat ? ' ' Yes/ replied he. ' But surely 
t r e e is written ? ' he argued. ' It grew lofty like the cedars 
of the Lebanon,' replied he. 

R. Jacob b. Aha said: R. Nehemiah and the Rabbis 
are in conflict. R. Nehemiah said: [The benediction for 
bread is : ' Blessed art Thou .. . .] who bringest forth (ha- 
mozi) bread from the earth,' because He brought it forth 
in the past. The Rabbis maintain : [The benediction is : . . .] 
'bringest forth (mozi),'* because He will bring it forth in 
the future, 5 as it is written, There shall be an handful of 
corn (pisath bar) in the land (Ps. lxxii, 16). 6 

1 V. supra, xii, 1 . It is quoted here to show that in man, too, God took 
pride, the phrase Whom He had formed being understood 
as though God pointed with pride at man, His handiwork. 

2 I.e. over the whole world. 3 Radal.M.K. translates : Not only the main 
branches, but even the side (minor) branches. * Without the def. art. 

5 They differ on the bringing forth of bread itself, not mere wheat which 
must be made into bread. R. Nehemiah holds that ha-mozi refers to the 
past, as God brought forth bread itself before Adam's sin, while the 
Rabbis say that mozi must be said, which refers to the future, for it is 
then that God will cause bread to grow; cf. Shab. 306. 

6 Rashi on Shab. 30b: this implies corn as wide as a handbreadth, i.e. 
loaves of that width. 

122 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XV. 7 

Lefeth 1 : two scholars, R. Hanina b. Isaac and R. Samuel 
b. Ammi, differ as to its meaning. One maintains: Lefeth 
means, it was lo path 2 ; while the other maintains: In the 
future it will be lo path. 

R. Jeremiah recited the blessing [for bread] before 
R. Zera: 'Who bringest forth Qia-mozi) bread from the 
earth/ whereupon he praised him. Do we then rule as R. 
Nehemiah? surely not! 3 But the reason was so as not to 
run the letters together. 4 If so, [are we to say] ha-min 
ha-arez ('that is from the earth')? 5 

R. Judah b. R. Ila'i said : It was grapes, for it says, Their 
grapes are grapes of gall, they have clusters of bitterness 
(Deut. xxxn, 32): those clusters brought bitterness [i.e. 
sorrow] into the world. R. Abba of Acco said : It was the 
ethrog (citron), as it is written, And when the woman saw 
that the tree was good for food (Gen. in, 6). Consider: 
go forth and see, what tree is it whose wood 6 can be eaten 
just like its fruit? and you find none but the ethrog. R. 
Jose said : They were figs. He learns the obscure from the 
explicit, and [the meaning of] a statement from its context, 
thus : This may be compared to a royal prince who sinned 
with a slave girl, and the king on learning of it expelled him 
from court. He went from door to door of the slaves, but 
they would not receive him ; but she who had sinned with 
him opened her door and received him. So when Adam 
ate of that tree, He expelled him and cast him out of the 
garden of Eden; and he appealed to all the trees but they 

1 Something which goes with bread, vegetables (Jast.). Here we have an 
Haggadic dispute as to what the name connotes. 

2 Not bread; it was not food for man before he sinned, as bread fully 
seasoned grew out of the ground then. (Jast.) 

3 Seeing that the Rabbis, who are in a majority, differ from him. 

* Ha-mozi is immediately preceded by ha-'olam (the universe), and if ha 
is not interposed, ha-olam and mozi will sound like one word, since 
one ends and the next begins with a mem (»). 

5 I.e. 'Who bringeth forth bread (lehem) that is (ha-min) \ etc., for other- 
wise lehem and min will be similarly run together. Yet we do not recite 
it thus, and the same should apply here. The difficulty remains 
unanswered. 

6 Heb. 'ez, the same word as 'tree' in the verse quoted, which is under- 
stood therefore as meaning that the tree itself, i.e. the wood, was good 
for food. 

123 



XV. 7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

would not receive him. What did they say to him? Said 
R. Berekiah : ' Behold, a deceiver who deceived his Creator, 
who deceived his Master ! ' as it is written, Let not the foot 
of presumption come unto me (Ps. xxxvi, 12), which means, 
the foot that presumed against its Creator ; And let not the 
hand of the wicked shake 1 me (ib.) : i.e. let it not take a leaf 
from me. 2 But because he had eaten of its fruit, the fig- 
tree opened its doors and received him, as it is written, 
And they sewed fig-leaves together, etc. (Gen. in, 7). Of 
what species was that fig-tree? R. Abin said: It was the 
berath sheva'* so called because it brought seven (shiv'a) 
days of mourning into the world. 4 R. Joshua of Siknin 
said in R. Levi's name: It was the berath alt, 5 because it 
brought lamentation and weeping into the world. 

R. 'Azariah and R. Judah b. R. Simon in the name of 
R. Joshua b. Levi said: Heaven forfend [that we should 
conjecture what the tree was] ! The Holy One, blessed be 
He, did not and will not reveal to man what that tree was. 
For see what is written : And if a woman approach unto any 
beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and 
the beast (Lev. xx, 16). Now if man has sinned, how did 
the animal sin ? But [it is killed] lest when it stands in the 
market place people should say, 'Through this animal 
So-and-so was stoned/ Then if the Holy One, blessed be 
He, was anxious to safeguard the honour of his [Adam's] 
descendants, how much more his own honour! 6 

1 Deriving tenideni from nadned> to shake. E.V. 'drive me away*. 

2 A tree is shaken when something is taken from it. 

3 A species of white fig, lit. ' a daughter of seven \ 

* Death was decreed on its account, and for the' death of a close relation 

one goes into full mourning for seven days. 

6 A different species; alt is connected here with eli, lamentation. 

8 Similarly, God did not reveal the nature of the tree that it might not 

be said, 'Through this tree Adam brought death into the world.' 



124 



[XVI. 1-2 

Chapter XVI (BERESHITH) 

i. And a river went out of Eden. R. Simon 
commenced: Thou makest him strong for ever (Job xiv, 20) 1 : 
the strength with which the Holy One, blessed be He, 
endowed Adam was intended 'for ever\ for all time; But 
he goeth : because he ignored God's wishes and followed 
the counsel of the serpent, Thou changest his countenance 2 
and sendest him away (ib.). R. Simon quoted: With Htm 
is counsel and might (ib. xn, 13): when he [Adam] was at 
harmony with his Creator, he opened up the four river- 
heads with one thrust of the spade, and these are the four 
river-heads: And a river went out of Eden, etc. 

2. The name of the first was Pishon (ii, ii): 
so called because it makes flax (pishton) grow, and it flows 
with tranquillity (be-shufi). z 

That is it which compasseth the whole 
land of Havilah. Havilah was not yet in existence, 
yet you say, That is it which compasseth the 
whole land of Havilah! But, He declareth the end 
from the beginning (Isa. xlvi, 10). 

Where there is gold: gold in its literal sense. 4 

And the gold of that land is good (ii, 12). 
Said R. Isaac: Fortunate is he who possesses it at home, 
and fortunate is he who possesses it on a journey 5 : R. 
Abbahu said: The Holy One, blessed be He, conferred a 
great boon upon the world, for a man changes one gold 
piece and can utilise it for many purposes. R. Simeon b. 
Lakish said : The world did not deserve to have the use of 
gold. Why then was gold created? For the sake of the 
Temple, as it is written, And the gold of that 
l an D is good, which bears the same connotation as in 
the verse, That goodly hill-country : Lebanon (Deut. in, 25). 6 

1 E .V. ' Thou prevailest for ever against him . 2 I .e. reduced his strength. 
3 Pishon, by transposing its letters, can be connected with Shufi. 

* Not, as is stated infra, symbolically employed here for the Torah. 

6 This is R. Isaac's comment on the word tob (good) ; it is good for a man 
to possess it. 

• Understood as a synonym for the Temple; cf. supra, xv, 1. 

125 



XVI. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

There is bedolah (E.V. 'bdellium') and onyx 
stone. R. Aibu said: You might think that the hedolah 
used by perfume-makers is meant 1 ; therefore it says, Its 
fellow [i.e. parallel passage] 2 telleth concerneth it (Job xxxvi, 
33) : just as the latter is a precious stone, so is the former a 
precious stone. 

3. And the name of the second river is 

GlHON; THE SAME IS IT THAT COMPASSETH 

the whole land of Cush (n, 13). Cush was not yet 
in existence, yet you say, The same is it that com- 

PASSETH THE WHOLE LAND OF CUSH! But, 'He 

declareth the end from the beginning.' 

And the name of the third river is Hid- 
dekel — E.V. 'Tigris' (ii, 14): so called because it is 
a roaring stream {had be-kolo).* 

That is it which goeth toward the east of 
Asshur. Asshur was not yet in existence, yet you say, 
That is it which goeth toward the east of 
Asshur! But, 'He declareth the end from the beginning.' 

And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 
Rab said: The Euphrates is the mightiest of all rivers. 4 
R. Hanina b. Igud and R. Joshua of Siknin in the name of 
R. Levi said : The Ubal is the most mighty of all rivers. 
But it is written, As I was by the side of the great river, 
which is Hiddekel — Tigris (Dan. x, 4)? That is because 
Daniel had two dreams, one by Ubal and the other by the 
Tigris, and as the Tigris appeared larger than Ubal, he 
calls it the large one. 5 But at the creation of the world this 
[river Euphrates] is not designated great; why then is it 
designated great elsewhere? 6 Because it flows on its way 
and encompasses Eretz Israel, of which it is written, For 
what great nation is there, that hath God so nigh unto them 

1 The sap of some tree (Th.). 

2 This derives re'o from rea\ a friend, companion. E.V. ' noise*. 

3 So Th. and M.K. Lit. 'sharp in sound'. Others translate differently. 

4 The word ptMnaiiK may also imply that it is the mother and source of all 
rivers. 6 The passage contains a number of difficulties, and the text 
is probably corrupt; on the identity of Ubal v. Th. ad loc. 

6 In Gen. xv, 18 ; Deut. 1, 7; Josh, x, 4. 

126 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVI. 3 

(Deut. iv, 7)? Hence the popular saying: 'The king's 
servant is a king; cleave to heat and it will warm you/ 1 

Rab said to his son IJiyya: 'The Lybians are in Eretz 
Israel.' 2 'Where do they dwell?' inquired he. 'By the 
ford of the river Bani,' 3 he replied. But Samuel maintained: 
As far as the river [Euphrates] flows is Eretz Israel. And 
what point is that? It is Tirbaknah. 4 

R. Judan and R. Huna disputed. R. Judan said: Perath 
(the Euphrates) is identical with Chebar 5 : Perath denotes 
that it grows (parah) and increases until it has to be 
traversed in ships; Perath denotes that its waters grow 
(parin) and increase 6 ; Perath is so called because it goes 
on branching off into channels (mafrid) until it ends under 
the spade. 7 It is called Chebar because its waters come to 
an end. 8 Chebar, because its fruit 9 is large and cannot fall 
through a kebara (sieve). R. Huna maintained: The 
Euphrates and the Chebar are separate rivers. 

R. Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi's name : [The rivers] 
said to the Euphrates: 'Why is thy sound not audible?' 10 
' My deeds make me known,' it replied 11 ; ' when a man plants 
a plant by me it matures in thirty days; when he sows a 
vegetable by me, it is full-grown in three days.' Said [the 
rivers] to the Tigris: 'Why is thy sound audible?' 'May 

1 Or (with a somewhat different text): associate with the governor and 
people will bow down to you. — Similarly, the Euphrates is called great 
because it compasses Eretz Israel, the home of a great nation. 

2 Th.: I.e. they are considered as part of the Jewish Diaspora (golak) 
in Babylonia, which had a higher status than the Diaspora elsewhere. 
V. 3£id. iv. 3 Which is east of the Tigris. 

4 On the upper reaches of the Euphrates northward. Bani is probably 
identical with Vanay. For the general identification of these names v. 
Kid. 71b and notes ad he. in Sonc. ed. The present views of Rab and 
Samuel respectively are transposed there. & V. Ezek. 1, 1 . 

6 Th. and M.K.: its waters cause fertility, the crops growing in 
abundance. Rashi in Bek. 53^: its waters increase even when there is 
no rain. 

7 Th. : comes to an end because of the channels dug with the spade along 
its course to divert its waters. 'Rashi': a single spadeful of earth suffices 
to close it up. 

8 In the fields and orchards whither they are diverted, and so people 
say, 'The river has already (kebar) ceased' (commentaries). 

9 The fruit or produce which grows on the land this river irrigates. 

10 It is a quietly flowing river. n I need not shout my merits. 

127 



XVI. 3-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

my voice be heard that I may be seen/ answered he. Said 
they to the fruit-bearing trees: 'Why is your sound not 
audible? 1 'We do not need it,' they reply, 'as our fruits 
testify for us/ Said they to the non-fruit-bearing trees: 
' Why is your sound audible ? ' ' Would that we could make 
our voice heard so that we might be seen/ they answered. 
R. Huna said : This is not the true reason ; but because the 
food trees are heavy with fruit, their voice is not audible; 
and because non-fruit-bearing trees are light in fruit, 
their voice is audible, as it is written, And his heart was 
moved and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest 
are moved with the wind (Isa. vn, 2). 1 

4. R. Menahma (others state, R. Tanhuma in the name 
of R. Joshua b. Levi) said 2 : The Holy One, blessed be He, 
will make the peoples of the world drink a cup of bitterness 
from the place whence this [river] issues. What is the proof? 
And a river went out from Eden to water 
the garden: This alludes to the four kingdoms, 
corresponding to the four heads [into which it was divided]. 
The name of the first is Pishon: this is Babylon, 
so called with reference to the verse, And their horsemen 
spread (pashu) themselves (Hab. 1, 8); also on account of 
the midget dwarf, who was smaller than a pushka (hand- 
breadth). 3 That is it which compasseth the 
whole land of Havilah: [this alludes to 
Nebuchadnezzar] who came up and surrounded the whole 
of Eretz Israel, whereof [sc. Eretz Israel] it is written, 
Hope thou (hohili) in God; for I shall yet praise Him (Ps. 
xlii, 6). 4 Where there is gold: by this is meant 
the words of the Torah, which are ' more to be desired than 
gold, yea, than much fine gold' .^ And the gold of 
that land is good: this teaches that there is no 



1 These sayings allegorically teach that if a man has real solid virtue to 
his credit he need not advertise his greatness. 

2 Text as emended by Th. and as in Lev. R. xni, 5. 

3 Viz. Nebuchadnezzar, according to Jewish legend. 
4 Havilah is thus connected with hohili, 

* This is quoted from Ps. xix, 1. 

128 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVI. 4 

Torah (learning) like the Torah of Eretz Israel, and no 
wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Israel. There is 
bdellium and the onyx stone: viz. Scripture, 
Mishnah, Talmud, Tosefta, and Haggadah. And the 
name of the second river is Gihon: this alludes 
to Media, whose eyes Haman inflamed [with hate] like a 
serpent, 1 [so called] in allusion to the verse, Upon thy 
belly (gehoneka) shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all 
the days of thy life (Gen. in, 14). The same is it 

THAT COMPASSETH THE WHOLE LAND OF CUSH, 

with allusion to the verse, Who reigned from India even 
unto Cush — E.V. 'Ethiopia 9 (Est. 1, 1). And the 

NAME OF THE THIRD RIVER IS HlDDEKEL: this 

alludes to Greece, which was sharp (had) and swift (kal) 
in its evil decrees, for she ordered Israel: Write upon 
the horn of an ox that ye have no portion in the God of 
Israel. 2 That is it which goeth before 3 Asshur: 
R. Huna said: In three things Greece was in advance of 
this wicked State [sc. Rome] 4 : viz., in navigation, in the 
arrangement of camp-vigils, 5 and in language. R. Huna 
said in R. Aha's name : All kingdoms [which] are designated 
after the name of Asshur [are so called] because they 
enrich themselves {mith- ashroih) at the expense of Israel. 
R. Jose b. R. Judah said: All kingdoms [which] are 
designated by the name of Nineveh are so called because 
they adorn themselves (mith-na'oth) 6 at the expense of 
Israel. R. Jose b. R. Halafta said: All the kingdoms 
designated by the name of Mizrayim (Egypt) are so called 
because they persecute (meziroth) Israel. And the 
fourth river is Perath (Euphrates): that is 
Edom, 7 Perath denoting that it upset (hefirah) and 
harassed His world ; Perath denoting that it was 
fruitful (parath) and increased through the blessing of that 

1 Th.: i.e. Media itself was not so very wicked, but Haman stirred up 
its evil passions. 2 Supra t 11, 4. 

3 Heb. kidmath, here connected with kodem> before. E.V. 'to the east of\ 

4 To which Asshur is understood as an allusion (Y.T.). 

5 Jast. Th.: in temples and in buildings. 

8 Nineveh is derived here from net eh, beautiful, whence miih-naoih. 
7 Edom is generally a synonym for Rome. 

129 K 



XVI. 4-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

old man [sc. Isaac] 1 ; Perath also denoting that I [God] 
will ultimately consign it to oblivion (hafer) ; [finally, it is 
called] Perath on account of its ultimate destiny, 
as it is written, I" have trodden the winepress (purah) 
alone . . . (Isa. lxiii, 3). 2 

5. And the Lord God took the man (ii, 15). 
R. Judah and R. Nehemiah differed in their interpretations. 
R. Judah said : He exalted him, as you read, And the peoples 
shall take them, and bring them to their place (Isa. xiv, 2). 3 
R. Nehemiah said : He persuaded him [to enter], as you read, 
Take with you words, and return unto the Lord (Hos. xiv, 3).* 

And put him into the garden of Eden. R. 
Judan and R. Berekiah each interpreted this differently. 
R. Judan said: He did actually give him repose, protect 
and delight him with all the trees of the garden of Eden. 
R. Berekiah said : [He put him there] in order to give him 
repose, protect and delight him with all trees of the 
garden of Eden. 5 Wayyanihehu (And He put him) 
means that He gave him the precept of the Sabbath, 
as you read, And rested (wayyanah) on the seventh day 
(Ex. xx, 11). Le-' abed ah (to till it): as you read, 
Six days shalt thou labour — ta-'abod (ib. 9). Ule- 
shamerah (and to keep it): Keep (shamor) the 
Sabbath day (Deut. v, 12). Another interpretation: 
Le-'abedah ule-shamerah (to till it and to 
keep it) is an allusion to sacrifices: thus it is written, 
Ye shall serve (ta-'abdun) God upon this mountain (Ex. in, 
12) ; and, Ye shall observe (tishmeru) to offer unto Me 
(Num. xxviii, 2). 

1 V. Gen. xxvii, 39 f. Esau was regarded as the progenitor of Rome. 

2 This refers to Edom (Rome), the passage commencing : Who is this 
that cometh from Edom (ib. 1)? 3 The passage deals with the future 
exalting of Israel. * Cf. supra, XV, 4. 

5 M.K.: both connect wayyanihehu (E.V. 'he put him') with hanahah 
(repose), be-gan (E.V. 'in the garden ') with haggen (to protect), and Eden 
with 'adden (to delight). R. Judan holds that Adam actually enjoyed 
these benefits, while R. Berekiah maintains that they were potential 
only, but he never enjoyed them because of his sin. Mah.: the con- 
troversy is the same as that recorded supra, xi, z, as to whether God's 
punishment was deferred until after the Sabbath or not. 

130 



genesis (bereshith) [xvi. 6 

6. And the Lord God commanded the man, 

saying: Of every tree of the garden thou 

mayest freely eat (ii, 16). R. Levi said: He gave 

him six precepts 1 : And He commanded (way- 

yezaw) alludes to idolatry, as you read: Because he 

willingly walked after zaw — i.e. idols (Hos. v, n). The 

Lord alludes to blasphemy, as you read, And he that 

blasphemeth the name of the Lord (Lev. xxiv, 16). God 

alludes to the [authority of] judges, as you read, Thou shalt 

not revile God — i.e. the judges (Ex. xxii, 27). The 

man: this alludes to bloodshed, as you read, Whoso 

sheddeth man's blood (Gen. ix, 6). Saying alludes to 

incest, 2 as you read : Saying : If a man put away his wife, 

etc. (Jer. m, i). Of every tree of the garden 

thou shalt freely eat: here He commanded him 

against theft. 3 The Rabbis interpreted the whole passage 

thus: And the Lord God commanded. He said 

to him: 'What am I? God, [and I command] that I be 

treated as a God and not cursed/ How do we know [that 

Adam was forbidden] incest? [From the passage], And 

cleave unto his wife (Gen. 11, 24), which implies, but not 

to his neighbour's wife, nor to a male, nor to an animal. 

Of every tree of the garden thou mayest 

freely eat. R. Jacob of Kefar Hanan said: When does 

[an animal] become food, and when is it fit to be eaten? 

When it is ritually slaughtered. Thus He intimated [the 

forbidden character of] a limb torn from a living animal. 4 

But of the tree of the knowledge of good 

and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in 

the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt 

SURELY DIE (moth tamoth) (ii, 17): [this intimated] 

death for Adam, death for Eve, and death for his descendants. 5 

1 Infra, xxiv, 5; Sanh. 566 passim. Generally seven are enumerated as 
being binding upon man before Revelation, the seventh being an 
injunction against eating flesh torn from a living animal. Since Adam, 
h6wever, was not permitted animal flesh at all, this is omitted here. 

2 Which in its Hebrew usage includes adultery, pederasty, and bestiality. 
s For" the whole passage cf. Sanh. 566 and notes ad loc. in Sonc. ed. 

4 He probably interprets the verse thus : akol tokel, when it is food (okel) 
thou mayest eat it ; v. infra, xvm, 5 ; Sanh. 580. 5 This is deduced from 
the doubling of the verb, which as usual is understood as an extension. 

13T 



XVII. 1-2] 

Chapter XVII (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord God said: It is not good 
that the man should be alone (n, 8). We learnt: 
By ten commands was the world created, 1 and these are 
they: In the beginning God created (Gen. i, i); And the 
spirit (ruah) of God hovered (ib. 2) 2 ; And God said : Let there 
be light (ib. 3) ; And God said : Let there be a firmament 
(ib. 6) ; And God said : Let the waters be gathered together 
(ib. 9) ; And God said : Let the earth put forth grass (ib. 
11); And God said: Let there be lights (ib. 14); And God 
said: Let the waters swarm (ib. 20); And God said: Let the 
earth bring forth (ib. 24); And God said: Let us make man 
(ib. 26). Menahem b. R. Jose excluded, 'And the spirit of 
God hovered over the face of the waters,' and included, 
And the Lord God said: It is not good that 
the man should be alone. R. Jacob b. R. Kirshai 
said: A separate command was devoted to the wind. 3 

2. It is not good. It was taught: He who has no 
wife dwells without good, without help, without joy, 
without blessing, and without atonement. ' Without good ' : 
It is not good that the man should dwell 
alone. 'Without help': / will make him a help meet for 
him. 'Without joy': And thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy 
household (Deut. xiv, 26). 4 'Without a blessing': To cause 
a blessing to rest on thy house (Ezek. xliv, 30). 5 'Without 
atonement': And he shall make atonement for himself and 
for his house (Lev. xvi, 11). R. Simon said in the name of 

1 Ab. v, 1; R.H. 32*. 

* These are interpreted as though they read: In the beginning God said, 
'Let there be heaven and earth' ; and God said, 'Let there be ruah' 
(E.V. 'spirit ', but apparently rendered here 'wind'). 

* 'Ruah,' E.V. 'spirit'. M.K. explains: see the greatness of the wind, that 
its creation required a separate order! Thus he agrees with the first 
Tanna. 

4 Household is understood to refer to a wife, and the verse is interpreted: 
And thou shalt rejoice only when there is a 'household ' to rejoice with thee. 

5 Probably translated : to cause a blessing to rest on thee for the sake of 
thy house i viz. wife. 

132 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVII. 2-3 

R. Joshua b. Levi: Without peace too, for it is said: And 
peace be to thy house (i Sam. xxv, 6). R. Joshua of Siknin 
said in the name of R. Levi: Without life too, for it is said, 
Enjoy life with the wife whom thou lovest (Eccl. rx, 9). 
R. tliyya b. Gomdi said : He is also incomplete, for it is 
written, And He blessed them, and called their name Adam — 
i.e. man (Gen. v, 2). 1 Some say: He even impairs the Divine 
likeness : thus it is written, For in the image of God made 
He man (ib. ix, 6), which is followed by, And you, be ye 
fruitful, and multiply {ib. y). 2 

3. I WILLMAKEHIMAHELP (<EZER) AGAINST 

him (ke-negdo) 3 : if he is fortunate, she is a help; 
if not, she is against him. R. Joshua b. Nehemiah said: 
If a man is fortunate, she is like the wife of Hananiah b. 
Hakinai ; if not, she is like the wife of R, Jose the Galilean. 
R. Jose the Galilean had a bad wife ; she was his sister's 
daughter, and used to put him to shame. His disciples said 
to him : ' Master, divorce this woman, for she does not act 
as benefits your honour/ 'Her dowry is too great for me, 
and I cannot afford to divorce her/ was his reply. 4 Now 
it happened once that he and R. Eleazar b. 'Azariah were 
sitting and studying, and when they finished, the latter 
asked him, 'Sir, will you kindly permit that we go to 
your home together?' 'Yes,' replied he. As they entered, 
she cast down her gaze [in anger] and was making her way 
out, when he looked at a pot standing on the pot-range and 
asked her, 'Is there anything in the pot?' 'There's a hash 
in it,' she answered. He went and uncovered it, and found 
in it some chickens. Now R. Eleazar b. 'Azariah knew 
what he had heard, 5 and as they sat together and were 
eating he observed, ' Sir, did she not say it was hash, yet 
we have found chickens?' 'A miracle has happened,' 
replied he. When they finished he said to him: "Master, 

1 Thus only both together are they 'man'. 

2 God's majesty, as it were, is impaired when man refuses to fulfil these 
functions. For the passage v. Yeb. 62a; infra, xxxiv, 14. 

3 Lit. translation of 'ke-negdo'. 4 The dowry had to be returned on 
divorce. 5 He understood the state of affairs. 

133 



XVII. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

abandon this woman, for she does not treat you with 
proper respect/ 'Sir/ he replied, 'her dowry is too great 
for me and I cannot divorce her/ 'We [your pupils]/ 
said the other, 'will apportion her dowry among ourselves, 1 
so you can divorce her/ And they did so for him; they 
apportioned her dowry and had her divorced from him, 
and made him marry another and better wife. As a punish- 
ment for her sins she [the first wife] became married to 
the town watchman. After some time he was visited with 
affliction, 2 and she went about leading him round the whole 
town, begging in every district, but on coming to where 
R. Jose the Galilean lived she used to turn back. But since 
that man [her husband] was well acquainted with the town, 
he said to her, 'Why do you not lead me to the house of 
R. Jose the Galilean, as I have heard that he is charitably 
disposed?' 'I am his divorced wife/ she confessed, 'and 
I cannot bring myself to face him/ On one occasion they 
came begging in the vicinity of R. Jose the Galilean, when 
he began to maltreat her, and their cries brought a crowd 
and the whole town was shocked at them. Looking out, R. 
Jose the Galilean saw how they were being jeered at in the 
streets, whereupon he took and settled them in a room in 
his own house 3 and supported them for the rest of their 
lives, in accordance with the verse, And that thou hide not 
thyself from thine own flesh (Isa. lviii, 7). 

Another version of this story : R. Jose the Galilean was 
married to his sister's daughter, who treated him shame- 
fully. Said his disciples to him, 'Divorce her/ 'I cannot 
pay her dowry/ he answered. 'We will pay it/ they said. 
So they gave it to him and he divorced her. She then 
married the town watchman. Later he became afflicted 
[with blindness] and she used to lead him by his hand 
through the streets of the town. But when she came to the 
street of R. Jose the Galilean she would stop. When he 
perceived this one day and a second day, he began beating 
her. Their cries brought down R. Jose, who said to him, 



1 Each will give something toward it. 

2 He became blind. 3 Or possibly: in a house of his. 



*34 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVII. 3-4 

'Why do you beat her?' 'She deprives me of the profit 
of this street every day/ was the reply. On hearing this 
R. Jose the Galilean took and settled them somewhere and 
supported them at his own expense, in accordance with the 
verse, 'And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh / 

4. And out of the ground the Lord God 
formed (wayyizer) every beast of the field 
(11, 19). R. Johanan b. Zakkai was asked: Since it is already 
written, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (1, 24), 
what is taught by And out of the ground the 
Lord God formed? [He replied]: The earlier verse 
refers to creation, whereas this treats of gathering them 
together, 1 as you read, When thou shalt mass (tazur) 
against a city a long time, in making war against it to take 
it (Deut. xx, 19). 2 R. Aha said: When the Holy One, 
blessed be He, came to create Adam, He took counsel 
with the ministering angels, saying to them, 'Let us make 
man 3 (1, 26). 'What will be the nature of this man?' they 
inquired. 'His wisdom will exceed yours/ He answered. 
What did the Lord do? He brought the animals, beasts, 
and birds before them and asked them, 'What should be 
the name of this ? ' but they did not know ; ' of this ? ' and 
they did not know. Then He paraded them before Adam, 3 
and asked him, 'What is the name of this?' 'An ox/ 
'And of this?' 'A camel/ 'And of this?' 'An ass/ 'And of 
this?' 'A horse/ Thus it is written, And the man 
gave names to all cattle, etc. (11, 20). Said He 
to him, 'And what is thy name?' 'It is fitting that I be 
called Adam, because I was created from the ground 
(adamah),' he replied. 'And what is My name?' 'It is 
fitting for Thee to be called Adonai (Lord), since Thou art 
Lord over all Thy creatures/ was the answer. R. Hiyya 
said : Thus it is written, / am the Lord, that is My name 
(Isa. xlii, 8), which means, That is My name by which 
Adam called Me. Then he paraded them again before him 

1 In order to name them, as the verse continues. 

2 Thus he renders : And the Lord God assembled all the beasts of the field 
(which were created) from the ground. 3 Of course, after his creation. 

*35 



XVII. 4-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

in pairs, [male and female]. Said he, 'Every one has a 
partner, yet I have none': thus, But for Adam 

THERE WAS NOT FOUND A HELP MEET FOR HIM! 

And why did He not create her for him at the beginning ? 
Because the Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that he 
would bring charges against her, therefore He did not create 
her until he expressly demanded her. But as soon as he did 
so, forthwith The Lord God caused a deep sleep 
TO fall upon the man, and he slept (ii, 21). 

5. Then the Lord God caused a deep sleep 
to fall upon the man. R. Joshua of Siknin said 
in R. Levi's name: The beginning of a man's downfall 
is sleep : being asleep, he does not engage in study and does 
no work. 1 Rab said: There are three kinds of torpor 
(tardemah): the torpor of sleep, the torpor of prophecy, 
and the torpor of unconsciousness. 2 ' The torpor of sleep ' : 
Then the Lord God caused a deep sleep to 
fall upon the man. 'The torpor of prophecy': And 
it came to pass, that, when the sun was going down, a deep 
sleep fell upon Abram (Gen. xv, 12). 'The torpor of uncon- 
sciousness': And no man saw it, nor knew it, neither did 
any awake; for they were all asleep ; because a deep sleep 
from the Lord was fallen upon them (1 Sam. xxvi, 12.) 
The Rabbis said: Also the torpor of folly, as it is written, 
Stupefy yourselves, and be stupid I . . . For the Lord hath 
poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep (Isa. xxix, 9 f). 
R. Ilanina for, Hinena] b. Isaac said: There are three 
incomplete phenomena: the incomplete experience of 
death is sleep; an incomplete form of prophecy is the 
dream; the incomplete form of the next world is the 
Sabbath. R. Abin added another two : the incomplete form 
of the heavenly light 3 is the orb of the sun ; the incomplete 
form of the heavenly wisdom is the Torah. 

6. And He took one of his ribs (zal'othaw). 4 
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said : He took one of his sides, as 

1 His point is : One causes man to fall, through sleep — a play on the verse. 
a Or, a trance or catalepsy. 3 Cf . supra, in, 6. 4 From %ela! , 

136 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVII. 6-7 

you read, And for the second side (zela') of the tabernacle, on 
the north side (Ex. xxvi, 20). 1 But Samuel maintained : He 
took one rib from between two ribs, for it is not written, 
[And He closed with flesh] in its place, but 'And He closed 
with flesh in their places.' 2 

R. Hanina, son of R. Adda, said : From the beginning of 
the Book until here no samech 3 is written, but as soon as 
she [Eve] was created, Satan 4 was created with her. While 
should one quote, That is it which compasseth — sobeb 
(Gen. 11, 11), 5 answer him: the text refers there to rivers. 6 

And He closed up the place with flesh in- 
stead thereof (tahtennah). R. Ilanina b. Isaac 
said : He provided him with a fitting outlet (naweh) for his 
nether functions, that his modesty might not be outraged, 
like an animal. 7 Rabin [said] : Jannai and R. Jannai differed 
thereon. 8 One says: He provided him with a lock and a 
saddle cloth pressed over it, 9 so that he should not suffer 
pain when he sits. The other said : He provided him with 
cushions. 10 R. Ila and R. Ammi disagreed. One said: He 
instituted burial for him; while the other said: He made 
shrouds for him. 11 

7. A [Roman] lady asked R. Jose: 'Why [was woman 
created] by a theft?' 12 'Imagine/ replied he, 'a man 
depositing an ounce of silver with you in secret, and you 
return him a litra [=12 ounces] of silver openly; is that 
theft!' 'Yet why in secret?' she pursued. 'At first He 

I V. supra, viii, 1. 2 Lit. translation, assuming the suffix in tafitennah 
to be plural, and referring to the places of the two ribs. 

3 A Hebrew letter. * Here spelt with a samech : pD, though usually 

]tae?. — Satan is a synonym for the evil passions. 5 Heb. aaio. 

6 But this is the first time that the samech is used in reference to man. 

7 He interprets 'tahtennah' as tahafh na'ah, seemly nether organs, i.e. 
He arranged that man should excrete through his nether part, and not 
from the side like an animal. 8 The text is doubtful. The translation 
follows Th., who suspects it to be corrupt. If correct, it perhaps refers 
to R. Jannai the Younger and R. Jannai b. R. Ishmael. 

* These are figurative terms for the lock of the buttocks (anus) and bones 
which close it in. 10 I.e. the flesh of the buttocks. 

II They both translate: and He closed up the flesh, i.e. the body, in the 
ground under him, and relate it either to the actual institution of burial 
or to the shrouds in which God decreed that man should be buried. 

12 God, as it were, stealing the rib. 

137 



XVII. 7-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

created her for him and he saw her full of discharge and 
blood ; thereupon He removed her from him 1 and created 
her a second time.' 'I can corroborate your words/ she 
observed. ' It had been arranged that I should be married 
to my mother's brother, but because I was brought up with 
him in the same home I became plain in his eyes and he went 
and married another woman, who is not as beautiful as I.' 2 
It once happened that a pious man was married to a 
pious woman, and they did not produce children. Said they, 
'We are of no use to the Holy One, blessed be He/ where- 
upon they arose and divorced each other. The former went 
and married a wicked woman, and she made him wicked, 
while the latter went and married a wicked man, and made 
him righteous. This proves that all depends on the woman. 3 

8. R. Joshua was asked: 'Why does a man come forth 
[at birth] with his face downward, while a woman comes 
forth with her face turned upwards?' 'The man looks 
towards the place of his creation [viz. the earth], while 
the woman looks towards the place of her creation [viz. 
the rib]/ he replied. 'And why must a woman use perfume, 
while a man does not need perfume?' 'Man was created 
from earth/ he answered, 'and earth never putrefies, 
but Eve was created from a bone. For example : if you leave 
meat three days unsalted, it immediately goes putrid/ 
'And why has a woman a penetrating [shrill] voice, but 
not a man?' 'I will give you an illustration,' replied he. 
'If you fill a pot with meat it does not make any sound, 
but when you put a bone into it, the sound [of sizzling] 
spreads immediately.' 'And why is a man easily appeased, 
but not a woman?' 'Man was created from the earth,' 3 
he answered, 'and when you pour a drop of water on it, 
it immediately absorbs it 4 ; but Eve was created from a bone, 

1 Th.: He destroyed this creation, * Thus, had Adam seen Eve in 

the process of creation he would have found her repulsive. 

8 This story presupposes and proves another rendering of the verse, viz. 

'And He delivered'. (Cf. Deut. xxiii, 16: Thou shalt not deliver — tasgir, 

of the same root as wayyisgor in the present verse) mankind (lit. ' flesh ') 

into her power. — Th. and Y.T. 

4 Thus man readily accepts an apology. 

138 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVII. 8 

which even if you soak many days in water does not become 
saturated.' 'And why does the man make demands upon 
the woman, whereas the woman does not make demands 
upon the man?' 'This may be compared to a man who 
loses something/ replied he ; 'he seeks what he lost, but the 
lost article does not seek him/ ' And why does a man deposit 
sperm within a woman while a woman does not deposit 
sperm within a man ? ' [He replied] : ' It is like a man who 
has an article in his hand and seeks a trustworthy person 
with whom he may deposit it.' 1 'Why does a man go out 
bareheaded while a woman goes out with her head 
covered?' 'She is like one who has done wrong and is 
ashamed of people; therefore she goes out with her head 
covered.' 'Why do they [the women] walk in front of the 
corpse [at a funeral]?' 2 'Because they brought death into 
the world, they therefore walk in front of the corpse, [as it 
is written], For he is borne to the grave . . . and all men 
draw after him, as there were innumerable before him' 
(Job xxi, 32 f). 3 'And why was the precept of menstruation 
given to her?' 'Because she shed the blood of Adam [by 
causing death], therefore was the precept of menstruation 
given to her.' 'And why was the precept of "dough" 4 
given to her ? ' ' Because she corrupted Adam, who was the 
dough (hallah) of the world, 5 therefore was the precept 
of dough given to her.' 'And why was the precept of the 
Sabbath lights given to her?' 'Because she extinguished 
the soul of Adam, 6 therefore was the precept of the Sabbath 
lights given to her/ 7 



1 With the assurance that the same will be returned. A woman can give 
that assurance, since she has one husband only, but not a man, since 
he may have many wives. 

2 Sanh. 20a. 3 Innumerable before him is understood to refer to women, 
and in a local, not temporal, sense. 

* V. Num. xv, 19 ff. The separation is naturally done by the woman who 
bakes the bread. 5 V. supra, xiv, 1. 6 I.e. made him mortal. 
7 The attitude of Judaism towards woman is shown in these replies. 
In accordance with Scripture, she is charged with having brought death 
into the world through her disobedience, yet her punishment is not to 
be accursed, but on the contrary, hers is the privilege to emphasise 
the inviolate character of woman, to sanctify the bread one eats and spread 
the cheer of the Sabbath as symbolised by light. 

139 



XVIII. i] 

Chapter XVIII (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord God built (wayyiben) the 
rib, etc. (n, 22). R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Jose 
b. Zimra: She was endowed with more understanding 
(binah) than a man. 1 For we learned elsewhere : The vows 
of an eleven-year-old maiden are subject to examination 2 ; 
those of a twelve-year-old maiden are valid, 3 and we 
examine her in the whole of the twelfth year. The vows of 
a twelve-year-old youth are subject to examination; those 
of a thirteen-year-old youth are valid, and we examine 
him in the whole of the thirteenth year. 4 R. Jeremiah said 
in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac: Some reverse it, 
because a woman generally stays at home, whereas a man 
goes out into the streets and learns understanding from 
people. R. Aibu — others state the following in R. 
Bannayah's name, and it was also taught in the name of 
R. Simeon b. Yohai — said: He [God] adorned her like a 
bride and brought her to Him, for there are places where 
coiffure is called building. 5 R. Kama b. R. Hanina said: 
What think you, that He brought her to him from under 
a carob tree or a sycamore tree! 6 Surely He first decked 
her out with twenty-four pieces of finery 7 and then brought 
her to him ! Thus it is written, Thou wast in Eden the garden 
of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the carnelian, 
the topaz, and the emerald, the beryl, the onyx, and the 
jasper, the sapphire, the carbuncle, and the smaragd, and 
gold; the workmanship of thy settings and of thy sockets 
was in thee, in the day that thou wast created they were 
prepared (Ezek. xxvni, 13). The Rabbis and R. Simeon 

1 This connects ' wayyiben ' with binah, rendering : and the Lord God 
made the rib into an understanding (intelligent) woman. 

2 Nid. 456. She is examined as to whether she understands their import, 
and if she does, her vows are valid. 

8 She has reached maturity, and is assumed to understand their import. 

* Thus a woman's understanding develops sooner than a man's. 

5 'Coiffure' stands here for adornment in general. Thus he translates: 

and the Lord God made the rib into a woman adorned. 

8 As though she were an uncared-for foundling. 

7 The twenty-four are those enumerated in Isa. in, 18-24 q»v« 

140 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVIIL 1-2 

b. Lakish differ. The Rabbis say : There were ten canopies 1 ; 
while R. Simeon b. Lakish maintained: There were eleven ; 
R. Hama b. R. IJanina said: There were thirteen. R. Hama 
b. R. Hanina and R. Simeon b. Lakish both hold: Where 
we find a general term and a detailed enumeration, you 
regard the general term as additional to the detailed 
enumeration, and all are included [in the total]. Now 'Every 
precious stone was thy covering' is a general term, while 
'The carnelian, the topaz,' etc., is a detailed enumeration: 
hence all are included [in the total], viz. 'Every precious 
stone was thy covering."* R. Levi and R. Simon, — one says 
that there were nine, while the other says ten. The view 
that there were ten agrees with the Rabbis ; while he who 
says nine argues: the 'gold' mentioned in this verse 
certainly does not allude to a canopy. 3 R. Aha b. Hanina 
said : He made the walls of gold and the covering of precious 
stones and pearls. 4 R. Eleazar b. Karsana said in R. Aha's 
name : He even made him hooks of gold. 

2. R. Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi's name: 
Wayyiben is written, signifying that He considered 
well Qiithbonnen) from what part to create her. Said He: 
'I will not create her from [Adam's] head, lest she be 
swelled-headed 5 ; nor from the eye, lest she be a coquette 6 ; 
nor from the ear, lest she be an eavesdropper; nor from 
the mouth, lest she be a gossip; nor from the heart, lest 
she be prone to jealousy; nor from the hand, lest she be 
light-fingered 7 ; nor from the foot, lest she be a gadabout; 
but from the modest part of man, for even when he stands 
naked, that part is covered.' And as He created each limb 

1 One of every precious stone enumerated in this verse. — Since God set 
up so many canopies, He must certainly have adorned her as a bride. 

2 Ten stones are enumerated, indicating ten canopies. R. Simeon b. 
Lakish holds that 'every precious' \ etc., indicates one more, while R. 
Hama b. R. Hanina regards ' precious 1 ', 'stone*, and 'covering* as three 
different canopies. 8 Since it is the last enumerated; v. B.B. 75a. 

* Mah.: this does not refer to the canopies but to a special seat. 
5 Others read: light-headed, i.e. frivolous. 

* Lit. 'a looker' — ogling men. 

7 Lit. 'one who touches things' — i.e. thievish. 

141 



XVIII. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

He ordered her, 'Be a modest woman.' Yet in spite of all 
this, But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would 
none of My reproof (Prov. i, 25). I did not create her from 
the head, yet she is swelled-headed, as it is written, 
They walk with stretched- forth necks (Isa. in, 16); nor from 
the eye, yet she is a coquette: And wanton eyes (ib.); nor 
from the ear, yet she is an eavesdropper : Now Sarah listened 
in the tent door (Gen. xvm, 10); nor from the heart, yet 
she is prone to jealousy: Rachel envied her sister (ib. xxx, 1) ; 
nor from the hand, yet she is light-fingered : And Rachel 
stole the teraphim (ib. xxxi, 19); nor from the foot, yet she 
is a gadabout : And Dinah went out, etc. (ib. xxxiv, 1). 

3. R. Hisda said: He built more chambers in her than 
in man, 1 fashioning her broad below and narrow at the 
top, so that she could receive child. 

And He brought her unto the man. R. Abin 
observed: Happy the citizen for whom the king is best 
man! 3 

4. And the man said: This is now (Zoth ha- 
pa'am), etc. (11, 23). R. Judah b. Rabbi said: At first 
He created her for him and he saw her full of discharge 
and blood; thereupon He removed her from him and 
recreated her a second time. Hence he said : This 

TIME SHE IS BONE OF MY BONE. 3 

This is she of the previous occasion; this is she who is 
destined to strike the bell and to speak [in strife] against 
me, 4 as you read, A golden bell— pa'amon (Ex. xxvni, 34); 
it is she who troubled me (me~fa l amtani) all night. All 
these remarks showed his amazement. 5 

1 The reference is to the womb. 

2 Here, God was ' best man * for Adam's bride. 

* And no longer a mass of discharge and blood. — The translation follows 
Th.; cur. edd.: This time she is bone of my bone, (meaning) 
it is she who was created the first time. Th., however, regards this as a 
separate statement. 4 'To strike the bell' is used metaphorically: 
to bring charges and accusations. 

6 Pa' am is given a twofold significance: (i) a bell, connecting it with 
pa'amon; and (ii) trouble, connecting it with the verb pa am, to trouble, 
disquiet.— The translation and interpretation follow Th, 

142 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVIII. 4-5 

Resh Lakish was asked: Why do not all other dreams 
exhaust a man, yet this [sc. a dream that intimacy takes 
place] does exhaust a man? Because from the very 
beginning of her creation she was but [formed] in a dream, 1 
replied he. 

Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. 
R. Tanhuma said : When a man takes one of his relations 
to wife, of him it is said, Bone of my bones, and 
flesh of my flesh. 

She shall be called, woman (ishah), because 
she was taken out of man (ish). From this you 
learn that the Torah was given in the Holy Tongue. 2 
R. Phinehas and R. Helkiah in R. Simon's name said: Just 
as it was given in the Holy Tongue, so was the world 
created with the Holy Tongue 3 . Have you ever heard one 
say, gini, ginia; itha, ittha; antropi, antropia; gabra, 
gabretha?* But ish and ishah [are used]: why? because 
one form corresponds to the other. 5 

5. Therefore shall a man leave his father 
and his mother (ii, 24). It was taught: If a man be- 
came a [Jewish] proselyte, and he was [previously] married 
to his paternal sister or to his maternal sister, he must, 
in R. Meir's opinion, divorce her. But the Sages maintain : 
He must divorce his maternal sister, but may keep his 
paternal sister, because Gentiles do not recognise paternity. 6 
They raised an objection against him: Surely it is written, 
And moreover she is my sister y the daughter of my father 
(Gen. xx, 12) ? He [Abraham] answered them in accordance 
with their own ideas, 7 was his reply. R. Hanan said: This 

1 Whilst Adam was sleeping. 

2 Sc. Heb. ishah is grammatically the fern, of ish % and Adam's remark is 
unintelligible unless he spoke in Hebrew. 

3 I.e. Hebrew was the first language to be used. 

4 Gini (yvvij) and antropi (an assumed form for aydpoivos) are 
woman and man respectively in Greek ; ittha and gabra are the same in 
Aramaic. It is pointed out that these words lack the corresponding 
feminine or masculine forms, such as are seen in ish and ishah, 

fi This is regarded as evidence of the great antiquity of the language. 

6 V. Sarin. $&a and notes ad loc. in Sonc. ed. 

7 Since the Egyptians permitted a paternal sister. But in truth she was 
his niece, not his sister at all. 

143 



XVIII. $] MIDRASH RABBAH 

view was proved to us by the verse, Therefore 

SHALL A MAN LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER, 

which means she who is related to his father and she who 
is related to his mother. 1 R. Abbahu objected: surely it is 
written, And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister 
to wife (Ex. vi, 20) ? 2 R. Simeon, the son of R. Abin, said : 
If so, the Israelites before Revelation did not even observe 
[the interdicts] of the children of Noah! 3 Said R. Ila: But 
it was explained to us: Therefore shall a man 

LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER means, 

the woman who is related to himself through his father 
and the woman who is related to himself through his 
mother. 4 

AND SHALL CLEAVE UNTO HIS WIFE, etc. R. 

Abbahu said in R. Johanan's name: The Noachides are 
culpable for [adultery with] married women, but not for 
[adultery with] betrothed women. 5 R. Jonah said in 
Samuel's name : If a harlot was standing in the street and 
two men had intercourse with her, the first is not culpable 
while the second is, on account of the verse, Behold, thou 
shalt die . . . for she has been possessed by a man (Gen. xx, 
3). 6 But did the first intend to acquire her through 
cohabitation? 7 Hence this proves that cohabitation in the 

1 He renders: ' Therefore shall a man leave,' i.e. divorce, his wife if she 
is related to his father t etc. 

2 If R. Meir's reason is as stated by R. Hanan, surely a father's sister is 
forbidden ? 

3 This continues and emphasises R. Abbahu' s objection. — 'The children 
of Noah' or 'Noachides' is the technical designation for non-Jews, 
also frequently for Abraham and his descendants before the Giving of 
the Law. 

4 I.e. only a paternal or maternal sister is forbidden, not an aunt, such 
as Jochebed was to Amram, who is primarily related to his father or 
mother. 

6 In ancient times marriage consisted of two stages: (i) erusin 
(betrothal), and (ii) nesu'in (marriage or home- taking). Erusin effected 
marriage, and the betrothed woman could not be free without a divorce ; 
but cohabitation was forbidden until nesu'in. 'Betrothed' and 
* betrothal ' are used in this sense in the text and not in accordance with 
their modem connotation. 

6 Lit. translation. This proves that punishment is due merely because she 
had already cohabited with another, and not because she was married. 

7 Surely not. 

144 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XVIII. 5 

case of the Noachides acquires, though that is not in 
accordance with [Jewish] law. 1 And how do we know that 
they have no divorce? R. Judah b. R. Simon and R. 
Ilanan in R. Johanan's name explained this as meaning 
either that they have no law of divorce at all, 2 or that both 
can divorce each other. 3 R. Johanan said: His wife can 
divorce him and she gives him a double dowry. 4 R. Hiyya 
taught: If a Gentile divorced his wife and she went and 
married another, and then they both went and became 
converted [to Judaism], I do not apply to him the verse, 
Her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her 
again to be his wife (Deut. xxiv, 4). — Said R. Aha in the name 
of R. ELanina b. Papa 5 : Throughout the Book of Malachi 
The Lord of hosts is used, whereas here [in reference to 
divorce] we have The God of Israel, as it says, For I hate 
putting away [i.e. divorce], saith the Lord, the God of Israel 
(Mai. 11, 16). It is as though one might say, His name has 
no bearing on divorce save in the case of Israel alone. R. 
Ilanan said: When Nehemiah came up from the land of 
Exile [to Eretz Israel, he found that] the women's faces 
had been blackened by the sun, so that [their husbands] 
had gone and married strange [i.e. heathen] wives, while 
these would go round the altar weeping. Thus Malachi 
says, And this ye do a second time (ib. 13), i.e. ye actually 
repeat [the sin committed] at Shittim! 6 Ye cover the altar 
of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with sighing {ib.). 
The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'Who will accept 
weeping and sighing from them? 7 Having robbed her, 
oppressed her, and deprived her of her beauty, thou castest 

1 In Jewish law intercourse acquires only when it is done with that 
purpose. 2 The husband can never divorce his wife. 

3 I.e. they have no divorce as it is practised by Jews, where only the 
husband can divorce his wife but not the reverse. 

4 'Rashi' and M.K. Others: a divorce document. 

5 He reverts to the question, How do we know that a Gentile has no 
divorce? e V. Num. xxv, 1. 

7 Perhaps : who will pay heed to their (the husbands') tears, when they 
petition Me, seeing that they cause their own wives thus to weep? 
Or this may refer to the second half of the verse: Insomuch that He 
regardeth not the offering any more (ib. 13): Who would accept offerings 
from them, when they are responsible for their own wives' tears? 

H5 L 



XVIII. 5~ 6 3 MIDRASH RABBAH 

her away!' And how do we know that they are forbidden 
incest, like an Israelite ? Because it says, And he 

SHALL CLEAVE UNTO HIS WIFE, which implies, but 

not unto his neighbour's wife; [unto his wife], but 
not to a male, nor to a beast. 1 R. Samuel, R. Abbahu, and 
R. Leazar in the name of R. Hananiah said : If a Noachide 
cohabits unnaturally with his wife, he is liable to death. 
R. Issi said : Every prohibition which is written in reference 
to the children of Noah is [technically] neither a positive 
nor a negative command. 2 Now how do you arrive [at the 
present law]? 3 [From the verse], And he shall 

CLEAVE UNTO HIS WIFE, AND THEY SHALL BE ONE 

flesh: [that means that he shall cleave] to the place 
where both form one flesh. 4 

6. And they were both naked, and were not 
ashamed — yithboshashu (n, 25). R. Leazar said: 
Three there were who did not remain in their tranquillity 
six hours, viz., Adam, Israel, and Sisera. Adam, for it is 
written, And they were not ashamed (lo yith- 
boshashu), which means, lo ba'u shesh sha'oth (six 
hours had not come). Israel: And the people saw that Moses 
delayed — boshesh (Ex. xxxii, 1), i.e. the six hours had 
come. 5 Sisera: Why is his chariot so long (boshesh) in 
coming (Judg. v, 28)? Every day he is wont to return at 
three hours or at four hours of the day, while to-day six 
hours have arrived (ba'u shesh sha'oth) yet he is not come ! 6 

1 'Incest* connotes here all forms of forbidden intercourse, and thus 
includes adultery, pederasty, and bestiality. — The whole of the preceding 
passage, which is really irrelevant, leads up to this piece of exegesis. 

2 Scriptural laws relating to Israelites are technically divided into these 
two categories ; the violation of the former is not punishable at all (by 
Scriptural law), while that of the latter involves flagellation. In the case 
of a Noachide, however, his prohibition ranks as neither, but is punishable 
by death (in theory only). 8 About unnatural intercourse. 

4 I.e. only natural intercourse is permitted him. V. Sanh. 57a, 58a and b. 

5 V. Ex. R. xli, 7. 

6 In the case of Adam this means that from the time of his intercourse 
with Eve until his expulsion less than six hours elapsed; v. Sanh. 38^. 
Obviously it cannot have the same meaning in the case of Israel and 
Sisera, but that at the sixth hour on the day of their downfall they were 
no longer enjoying their usual tranquillity. — Mah. 

146 



genesis (bereshith) [xviii. 6 

And they were not ashamed. Now the 
serpent was more subtle, etc. Now surely 
Scripture should have stated, And the Lord God made for 
Adam and his wife garments of skin (Gen. in, 21) 1 
[immediately after the former verse]? Said R. Joshua b. 
Karhah: It teaches you 2 through what sin that wicked 
creature inveigled them, viz. because he saw them engaged 
in their natural functions, he [the serpent] conceived a 
passion for her. 3 R. Jacob of Kefar Hanan said : It is thus 
written in order not to conclude with the passage on the 
serpent. 4 

1 The questioner holds that God made these garments before Adam 
sinned, and as a natural covering for their nakedness. But in that case it 
should immediately have followed this verse. 

2 Viz. the interpolation about the serpent. 

3 Hence he sought to encompass Adam's death through sin. 

* And the curse he brought. Therefore ' And the Lord God made . . . 
garments' is reserved for the ending, so as to conclude on the brighter 
note of God's care. 



U7 



XIX. i] 

Chapter XIX (BERESHITH) 

I. NOW THE SERPENT WAS MORE SUBTLE, etc. (ill, 

i). For in much wisdom is much anger, and he that increaseth 
knowledge increaseth sorrow (Eccl. I, 18): Because man 
increases his wisdom he increases anger against himself, 
and because he increases his knowledge he adds to his 
sorrow. 1 Solomon said : Because I have multiplied wisdom 
to myself I multiplied anger against myself, and because 
I increased my knowledge I increased my sorrows. Did you 
ever hear anybody say : ' This ass went out and caught the 
sun [i.e. ague], or caught a fever*? 2 And where is suffering 
prevalent? With human beings. Rabbi said: A scholar 
does not require a warning. 3 R. Johanan said : It is like the 
fine linen garments which come from Beth Shean 4 : if 
they are even slightly blackened they are ruined; but as 
for the [coarse] linen garments which come from Arbel, 5 
what is their value altogether? 6 R. Ishmael taught: 
According to the camel so is. its load. 7 It often happens that 
two people enter a tavern; one orders, 'Bring me roast 
meat, white bread, and good wine,' while the other orders, 
'Bring me bread and beets': the former eats and suffers 
afterwards, while the latter eats and does not suffer. Thus 
human ills weigh heavily upon the one but not upon the 
other. It was taught in R. Meir's name : According to the 
greatness of the serpent so was his downfall : because he 
was More subtle than all, he was More cursed 
than all (Gen. in, 14). 
Now the serpent was more subtle than any 

1 Eccl. R. 1, 18. 

2 Animals, though lacking intelligence, are generally free from these ills. 

3 Sanh. 8b. Flagellation for violating a negative precept (v. p. 146, n. z) 
is imposed only if the offender was previously warned, but in the case 
of a scholar this is unnecessary, as he is assumed to know that the act is 
forbidden. Thus through increasing his knowledge he increases his 
sorrow, being punished where another would be exempt. 

4 Scythopolis in Galilee. 5 In Galilee, near Sepphoris. 

• Very little, and a flaw does not matter. Similarly, the greater one is the 
greater is his punishment, and the same applies to the serpent, 'the most 
subtle' of all animals. 7 Sot. 13b. 

148 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIX. I-3 

beast of the field. R. Hoshaya the Elder said: He 
stood out distinguished [erect] like a reed, and he had feet. 1 
R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: He was an unbeliever. 2 R. 
Simeon b. Eleazar said: He was like a camel. He deprived 
the world of much good, for had this not happened, one 
could have sent his merchandise through him, and he 
would have gone and returned. 3 

2. And he said unto the woman: Yea (af), 
hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree 
of the garden? R. Hanina b. Sansan said: Four 
commenced [their sin] with ' af (yea) and were destroyed 
through ' af'.* And these are they: The serpent, the chief 
baker, the congregation of Korah, and Haman. The 
serpent: And he said unto the woman: Yea (af), 
hath God said, etc. The chief baker: I also (af) saw 
in my dream (Gen. xl, 16). The congregation of Korah: 
Moreover (af) thou hast not brought us unto a land, etc. 
(Num. xvi, 14). Haman: Yea (af), Esther the queen did let 
no man come in, etc. (Est. v, 12). 

3. And the woman said unto the serpent: Of 
the fruit of the trees of the garden we may 
eat (ill, 2). Now where was Adam during this con- 
versation? Abba Ilalfon b. Koriah said: He had engaged 
in his natural functions [sc. intercourse] and then fallen 
asleep. The Rabbis said: He [God] took him and led him 
all around the world, telling him : ' Here is a place fit for 
planting [trees], here is a place fit for sowing [cereals]/ 
Thus it is written, Through a land that no man passed 
through, and where no man (adam) dwelt (Jer. 11, 6) 5 : i.e. 
Adam had not dwelt there. 

But of the fruit of the tree which is in 
the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye 



1 Cf . infra, xx, 1 . 2 V. infra, xx, 1 . * And none would have 

dared to attack it, owing to its great strength. Cf. Sanh. 596. 
* Here is a play on words. * Af* means yea, moreover, too; they com- 
menced their sin with the word 'af. * Af also means wrath: they were 
punished through God's wrath. 5 V. Ber. 3a. 

149 



XIX. 3~4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

SHALL NOT EAT OF IT, NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH 

IT, lest ye die (in, 3). Thus it is written, Add not 
unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a 
liar (Prov. xxx, 6). R. Iliyya taught: That means that you 
must not make the fence more than the principal thing, 1 
lest it fall and destroy the plants. Thus, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, had said, For in the day that thou eatest 
thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen. 11, 17); whereas she did 
not say thus, but, God hath said: Ye shall not 

EAT OF IT, NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH IT; when he 

[the serpent] saw her thus lying, he took and thrust her 
against it. 'Have you then died?' he said to her; 'just as 
you were not stricken through touching it, so will you not 
die when you eat it, but For God doth know that in the day 
ye eat thereof,' etc. (ib. 5). 2 

4. R. Tanhuma said: I was asked this question in 
Antioch. 3 I answered : It is not written, For the gods know 
(yod'eim), but, 'For God knows (yodea').' 4 

R. Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi's name: He [the 
serpent] began speaking slander of his Creator, saying, ' Of 
this tree did He eat and then create the world; hence He 
orders you, ye shall not eat thereof, so that you may not 
create other worlds, for every person hates his fellow 
craftsmen/ R. Judah b. R. Simon said: He argued: 
'Whatever was created after its companion dominates it. 
Thus: heaven was created on the first day and the firma- 
ment on the second 5 : does it not bear its weight? The 
firmament was created on the second and herbs on the 
third: do they not interrupt its waters ? 6 Herbs were created 



1 Adam, in order to emphasise the prohitition, added a fence to it by 
telling her that she must not even touch it (a r n). 2 Cf. Sanh. 29a. 

3 The end of the verse reads : Then ye shall be as God, knowing good and 
evil; 'knowing ' is in the plural (yode*e; sing.yodea), which implies more 
than one God. 

4 Hence the plural form of * knowing ' refers back to ye shall be, not to 
God. Cf. supra, viu, 9. 5 V. supra, iv, z; vi, 6. 

8 The herbs interrupt the flow of rain from the firmament. Others read ; 
'does it (the firmament) not supply them with water' — thus being 
subservient thereto. 

150 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIX. 4-5 

on the third day and the luminaries on the fourth; 1 the 
luminaries on the fourth and the birds on the fifth/ 
R. Judah b. R. Simon said: The ziz 2 is a clean bird, 3 
and when it flies it obscures the orb of the sun. 4 ' Now you 
were created after everything in order to rule over every- 
thing; make haste and eat before He creates other worlds 
which will rule over you/ Hence it is written, And the 
woman saw that it was good, etc. (ib. in, 6) : she saw [how 
plausible were] the words of the serpent. 

5. That the tree was good for food, etc. R. 
Eleazar said in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra : Three things 
were said of the tree : it was good to eat, it was beautiful 
to the eyes, and it added wisdom, and the three were said 
in the same verse: And the woman saw that the 
tree was good for food: hence we learn that it 
was good to eat; And that it was a delight to 
the eyes: hence that it was beautiful to the eyes; 
And that the tree was to be desired to make 
one wise (le-haskil): hence that it added wisdom, 
as you read, Maskil (a song of wisdom) of Ethan the 
Ezrahtte (Ps. lxxxix, i). 

She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. 
R. Aibu said: She squeezed grapes and gave him. 5 R. 
Simlai said: She came upon him with her answers all 
ready, saying to him: 'What think you: that I will die 
and another Eve will be created for you? — There is nothing 
new under the sun (Eccl. 1, 9). Or do you think that I will 
die while you remain alone ? 6 He created it not a waste, He 
formed it to be inhabited' (Isa. xlv, 18). The Rabbis said: 
She began weeping and crying over him. 

Also is an extension 7 ; she gave the cattle, beasts, 
and birds to eat of it. All obeyed her and ate thereof, except 
a certain bird named hoi (phoenix), as it is written, Then I 

1 And through the heat of the sun plant life matures and ripens. 

2 Name of a bird; cf. Ps. L, 11. 3 I.e. it may be eaten. 

4 Thus it dominates the sun, as it were. 5 Cf. supra, xv, 7. 

6 Jast. in public places (with none to care for). 

7 In the passage, And she gave also unto her husband ; cf . supra, 1, 14. 

151 



XIX. 5~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said : I shall die with my nest, and I shall multiply my days 
as the hoi— EN. 'phoenix' (Job xxix, 18). The School of 
R. Jannai and R. Judan b. R. Simeon differ: The School 
of R. Jannai maintained: It lives a thousand years, at the 
end of which a fire issues from its nest and burns it up, yet 
as much as an egg is left, and it grows new limbs and lives 
again. R. Judan b. R. Simeon said: It lives a thousand 
years, at the end of which its body is consumed and its 
wings drop off, yet as much as an egg is left, whereupon 
it grows new limbs and lives again. 

6. And the eyes of them both were opened 
(hi, 7). Were they then blind ? R. Judan in the name of R. 
Johanan b. Zakkai, and R. Berekiah in the name of R. 
Akiba explained it by comparing them to a villager who 
was passing a glass- worker's shop and just when a basket 
full of goblets and cut-glass ware was in front of him he 
swung his staff round and broke them. Whereupon he [their 
owner] arose and seized him, saying to him, 'I know that 
I cannot obtain redress from you, but come and I will show 
you how much valuable stuff you have destroyed.' Thus 
He showed them how many generations they had destroyed. 

And they knew that they were naked, etc. 
Even of the one precept which they had possessed they 
had stripped themselves. 1 

And they sewed the leaves of the fig 
(te'enah) together. R. Simeon b. Yohai said; 
That is the leaf which brought the occasion (to'anah) — 
for death — into the world. 2 R. Isaac said : Thou hast acted 
sinfully : then take thread and sew ! 3 

And they made themselves girdles (hago- 
roth). R. Abba b. Kahana said: Not hagorah (a girdle) 
but hagoroth [plural] is written : now hagoroth 
implies shirts [or, embroidered girdles], robes, and linen 

1 They were naked of obedience. 

2 M.K.: which brought grief into the world; cf. supra, xv ad fin, 

* I.e. because of your sin you must henceforth toil. — Thus the immediate 
consequence of their sin was that they had to begin sewing. 

152 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIX. 6-7 

cloaks ; and just as these are made for man, so for woman 
are made girdles, hats, and hair nets. 1 

7. And they heard the voice of the Lord 
God travelling in the garden toward the 
cool of the day (hi, 7). R. Halapay said: We know 
[from here] that a voice may travel, 2 but we do not yet 
know that ' travelling ' can apply to fire; and whence do 
we know that? From a verse elsewhere: And the fire 
travelled down upon the earth (Ex. ix, 23). 

R. Abba b. Kahana said : Not mehallek but mith-halleB 
is written here, 4 which means that it [repeatedly] leaped and 
ascended. The real home of the Shechinah was in the nether 
sphere; when Adam sinned it departed to the first rakia! 
[firmament] ; when Cain sinned, it ascended to the second 
rakia' ; when the generation of Enosh sinned, it ascended 
to the third ; when the generation of the Flood sinned, to 
the fourth; with the generation of the separation [of 
tongues], to the fifth; with the Sodomites, to the sixth, with 
the Egyptians in the days of Abraham, to the seventh. But 
as against these there arose seven righteous men : Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses, and they 
brought it down again to earth. Abraham [brought it down] 
from the seventh to the sixth, Isaac from the sixth to the 
fifth, Jacob from the fifth to the fourth, Levi from the 
fourth to the third, Kohath from the third to the second, 
Amram from the second to the first, while Moses brought 
it right down below. R. Isaac said: It is written, The 
righteous shall inherit the land and dwell (wayyishkenu) 
therein for ever (Ps. xxxvii, 29) : then what are the wicked 
to do — are they to range in the air! What it means is that 
the wicked did not permit the Shechinah to dwell on earth. 5 

1 Hagoroth is plural, and it is understood to mean various kinds 
of garments. 

2 He applies 'travelling* to the 'voice', not to God. 

3 For 'travelling 1 . E.V. * walking*. 

4 The former belongs to the pi' el conjugation of the verb ; the latter to the 
kith-pa'el. He understands the longer form as a frequentative. 

5 By reading wayyashkinu (and they caused — the Shechinah — to dwell) 
instead of wayyishkenu, and they dwell. 

153 



XIX. 8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

8. R. Berekiah said: For wayyishme'u (and they heard) 
read wayyashmi'u (and they caused to hear) 1 : they heard 
the voice of the trees saying, ' Lo the deceiver who deceived 
his Creator!' 2 R. tlanina b. Papa said: For wayyishme'u 
read wayyashmi'u : they heard the voice of the ministering 
angels saying, ' The Lord God is certainly going to those 
in the garden' [to punish them]. R. Levi and R. Isaac 
differed in their interpretation. R. Levi said: [The 
ministering angels were exclaiming], ' He of the garden is 
dead [and gone]/ 3 R. Isaac said: [They exclaimed]: 
'Does he still go about!' 4 

Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to them: [ f He will 
die] le-ruah ha-yom,' 5 i.e. le-rewah ha-yom (after 
the day's respite) : ' behold, I will give him the day's respite. 
For thus spoke I to him: "For in the day that thou eatest 
thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. II, 17). Now ye do not 
know whether that means one day of Mine or one day of 
yours. But behold ! I will grant him one day of Mine, which 
is a thousand years, 6 and he will live nine hundred and 
thirty years and leave seventy for his children,' as it is 
written, The days of our years are threescore years and ten 
(Ps. xc, 10). 

Le-ruah ha-yom. Rab said : He [God] judged 
him in the east side [of the universe] : Le-ruah ha- 
yom implies in the side (ruah) which rises with the day 
[i.e. sun]. Zabdi b. Levi said: He judged him in the west 
side : Le-ruah ha-yom implies in the side which 
sinks with the day. 7 In Rab's view, He was severe toward 
him, just as the more the sun ascends the hotter it becomes. 
In Zabdi's view he was lenient toward him, just as the 
further the sun declines the cooler it grows. 

1 He relates this to the trees: the trees caused their voice to be heard. 

2 Supra, xv, 7. 3 He is doomed to die, reading meth holek (he goes as 
dead) instead of tmth-hallek. 

4 When God has declared that disobedience would be followed by death. 
According to these interpretations the verse is rendered thus : And they 
heard the voice (of the angels declaring), etc. (either: f O God, he* — 
man — 'is dead and gone*; or, 'God is going to those in the garden* — 
to punish them; or, 'O God, does man still walk about T). 

5 E.V. 'in the cool of the day'. 6 V. Ps. xc, 4. 

7 As explained, east and west denote severity and mildness respectively. 

J 54 



genesis (bereshith) [xix. 8-9 
And the man and his wife hid themselves 

. . . AMONGST THE TREES OF THE GARDEN. R. Aibu 

said : His stature shrank to a hundred cubits. 1 

Amongst the trees ('ez) of the garden. R. 
Levi said: This was a sign for his descendants, that they 
would be placed within wooden {'ez) coffins. 

9. And the Lord God called unto the man, 
and said: Where art thou — ayekkah? (hi, 9): 
'How (ek) hast thou fallen! 2 Yesterday [thou wast ruled] 
by My will, and now by the will of the serpent ; yesterday 
[thou didst extend] from one end of the world to the other, 
whereas now [thou canst hide] amongst the trees 
of the garden!' 3 

R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Jose b. R. Hanina: 
It is written, But they are like a man (Adam), they have 
transgressed the covenant (Hos. vi, 7). ' They are like a man 
(Adam)' means like Adam: just as I led Adam into the 
garden of Eden and commanded him, and he trans- 
gressed My commandment, whereupon I punished him by 
dismissal and expulsion, 4 and bewailed him with ekah 
(how) ! (I led him into the garden of Eden, as it is written, 
And the Lord God took the man y and put him into the garden 
of Eden (Gen. 11, 15); and I commanded him: And the 
Lord God commanded the man (ib. 17) ; and he transgressed 
My commandment : Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I 
commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat (ib. in, 11)? 
and I punished him by dismissal : Therefore the Lord God 
sent him forth from the garden of Eden (ib. 23); and I 
punished him by expulsion: So he drove out the man 
(ib. 24) ; I bewailed him with ekah (how) ! And said unto 
him : ayyekah : ekah is written 5 ) : so also did I bring his 
descendants into Eretz Israel and command them, and 
they transgressed My commandment, and I punished them 

1 V. supra, xn, 6, and notes ad loc. 

2 Lit. 'how is it with thee!' vocalising n^K (ayyekah) as nyx (ekah, 

howl used in apostrophe). 8 Cf. supra, vm, i; xn, 6. 

4 Mah. : dismissal implies for a certain purpose, and hence, for a limited 

period, — here, until man should expiate his sin by hard work ; whereas 

expulsion is more final, and does not imply a purpose or limit. 6 V. n. 2 

155 



XIX. 9-* 1 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

by sending them away and expelling them, and I bewailed 
them with ekahf I brought them into Eretz Israel, as it is 
written, And I brought you into a land of fruitful fields (Jer. 
II, 7); I commanded them: And thou shalt command the 
children of Israel (Ex. xxvn, 20), also, Command the children 
of Israel (Lev. xxiv, 2) ; they transgressed My command : 
Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law (Dan. ix, 11); 
I punished them by sending them away : Send them away 
out of my sight, and let them go forth (Jer. xv, 1); by 
expulsion: I will drive them out of My house (Hos. ix, 15); 
and I bewailed them with ekah : Ekah (how) doth the city 
sit solitary (Lam. 1, i). 1 

10. And he said: I heard Thy voice . . . and 
He said: Who told thee, etc. (in, 11 f)? R. Levi 
said: Imagine a woman borrowing vinegar, 2 who went in 
to the wife of a snake-charmer and asked her, ' How does 
your husband treat you ? ' ' He treats me with every kind- 
ness/ she replied, 'save that he does not permit me to 
approach this cask which is full of serpents and scorpions/ 
'It contains all his finery/ said the other; 'he wishes to 
marry another woman and give it to her/ What did she do? 
She inserted her hand into it, and they began biting her. 
When her husband came he heard her crying out [with 
pain]. 'Have you touched that cask?' he demanded. 
Similarly, Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof 
I commanded thee, etc.? 

11. And the man said: The woman whom 
Thou gavest to be with me, she gavemeof 
the tree, and I did eat (hi, 12). Four there are 
upon whose flask the Holy One, blessed be He, knocked, 
only to find it a chamber-pot, viz., 3 Adam, Cain, the wicked 
Balaam, and Hezekiah. Adam :Andthemansaid, 
etc. ; Cain : And the Lord said unto Cain : Where is Abel 
thy brother (Gen. iv, 9) ? the wicked Balaam : And God came 

1 Lam. R. Proem v, 4. 

2 Poor women would go borrowing or begging vinegar, into which they 
dipped their bread (Radal). Var. lee: a woman asking for leaven. 

3 A metaphor: God tested them by questions and found them wanting. 

156 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XIX. 11-12 

unto Balaam, and said: What men are these with thee 
(Num. xxn, 9)? Hezekiah: Then came Isaiah the prophet 
unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him: What said these 
men? etc. (11 Kings xx, 14) . x But Ezekiel was found superior 
to all of them: Son of man, can these bones live? and I 
answered: O Lord God, Thou knowest (Ezek. xxxvn, 3). 
R. Ilanina b. Papa said: This may be compared to a bird 
in the hand of a hunter, who met a man and asked him: 
' Is this dead or alive ? ' ' If you wish, it is alive ; and if you 
wish, it is dead/ was the reply. 2 Thus: ' Can these bones 
live? And I answered: O Lord God, Thou knowest J 

12. Thus it is written, Then would I speak, and not fear 
Him; for I am not so with myself (Job ix, 35). Job said: 
I am not like him [Adam] : he said, The woman 
whom Thou gavest to be with me, etc.: thus he 
hearkened to his wife, but I did not hearken to my wife. 3 

R. Abba b. Kahana said: Job's wife was Dinah, 4 for he 
said to her: Thou speakest as one of the vile women (nebaloth) 
speaketh (ib. 10). 5 What? shall we receive good at the hand of 
God, and shall we not receive evil (Job loc. cit.)l Said R. 
Abba: It is not written 'shall I receive', but 'shall we 
receive * : shall we be upright in prosperity but not upright 
in times of evil ! 6 For all this did not Job sin with his lips. 
Said R. Abba: With his lips he did not sin, but with his 
heart he sinned. 7 

R. Abba said : Not we-okalti (and I did eat) but wa-okel 
is written: I did eat and I will eat. 8 R. Simeon b. Lakish 

1 V. Num. R. xx, 6. 2 Its life and death are in your hands. 
a Translating : for I am not like (Adam, who said : ' The woman whom Thou 
gavest') to be with me. When Job said that he would speak without fear 
of God, his friends pointed out that even Adam, though God's handi- 
work, could not stand before Him. To which Job replied that he was not 
like Adam, who had obeyed his wife and sinned, whereas he had refused 
to obey her when she urged, Blaspheme God, and die (Job n, 9). 

4 Jacob's daughter. 

5 While of Dinah it is written : Because he had wrought a vile deed (nebelah) 
in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter (Gen. xxxiv, 7). 

6 Th. : the idea seems to be that Job's wife too was righteous, notwith- 
standing her counsel. 7 B.B. 16a. 

8 Different vocalisation of the same word changes its tense, thus : b5fc\ 
(wa-okel), and I did eat; !?£&! (zoe-okal), and I will eat. 

157 



XIX. 12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said: Adam was not banished from the garden of Eden 
until he reviled [God] and blasphemed, as it is written, 
And he looked that it should bring forth grapes^ and it brought 
forth wild grapes (Isa. v, 2). 1 

And the woman said: The serpent beguiled 
me (hishi'ani), and I did eat. He incited me, he 
incriminated me, he beguiled me. 'He incited me/ as you 
read, The enemy shall not incite (yashi) him (Ps. lxxxix, 
23); 'he incriminated me/ as you read, When thou dost 
lend (tasheh) thy neighbour (Deut. xxiv, 10) 2 ; 'he beguiled 
me/ as you read, Now therefore let not Hezekiah beguile 
(yashi) you (11 Chron. xxxn, 15). 

1 Not only did it not produce the fine grapes of virtue and obedience, 
but it actually brought forth the wild grapes of blasphemy. V. also 
Num. R. xin, 37. 

2 I.e. make him liable for repayment; here, he made me liable to 
punishment. 



158 



[XX. 1-2 

Chapter XX (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord God said unto the serpent: 
Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou 
from among all cattle, etc. (in, 14). A slanderer 
shall not be established in the earth; the violent and wicked man 
shall be hunted with thrust upon thrust (Ps. cxl, 12). R. Levi 
said : In the millennium the Holy One, blessed be He, will 
take the nations of the world and hurl them down into 
Gehenna, saying to them, 'Why did ye mulct My children ? ' 
and they will answer Him: 'Some of them were much 
addicted to slander/ Then the Lord will take both and 
hurl them into Gehenna. Another interpretation: 'A 
slanderer' alludes to the serpent, who uttered slander 
against his Creator 1 ; 'Shall not be established in the earth, 
as it is written, Upon thy belly shalt thou go; 2 ' The violent 
and wicked man shall be hunted* : not 'With a thrust' 
is written, but ' With thrust upon thrust ' : Adam was cursed, 
Eve was cursed, and the serpent was cursed, as it is 
written, And the Lord God said unto the 
serpent, etc. 

2. Afroward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth 
familiar friends (Prov. xvi, 28). ' A froward man 1 refers to 
the serpent, who spake perversely of the Creator; "And a 
whisperer ' : [he is so called] because he whispered words 
against the Creator, viz. Ye shall not surely die (Gen. in, 4) ; 
' Separateth familiar friends ' : he separated the Prince of 
the world, 3 and because he separated the Prince of the 
world he was cursed: And the Lord God said unto 

THE SERPENT, etc. 

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, 
etc. With Adam He [first] discussed the matter, with Eve 
He [first] discussed the matter, but with the serpent He 
entered into no discussion. 4 The reason is that the Holy 

1 Cf. supra, xix, 4. * I.e. 'Shall not . . . earth* means that the serpent 
will not walk upright, as hitherto; cf. supra, xix, 1. 
3 He caused the Shechinah to depart. Cf. supra, xix, 8. 
* But cursed him forthwith. 

159 



XX. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

One, blessed be He, said: 'This serpent is ready wi 
answers: if I discuss it with him, he will answer M 
"Thou badest them and I bade them: why did they igno 
Thy bidding and follow mine?'" Therefore lie pr< 
nounced his sentence summarily : hence, And th 
Lord God said unto the serpent, etc. 1 

3. R. Hiyya taught: When conferring honour, v 
commence with the greatest; when subjecting to degrad 
tion, we commence with the smallest. When conferrii 
honour we commence with the greatest: And Moses sa 
unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his so 
(Lev. x, 6). But in subjecting to disgrace we commem 
with the smallest: And the Lord God said unt 

THE SERPENT: B ECAUSE THOU HAST DONE THI! 

cursed art thou . . . Unto the woman He sate 
I will greatly multiply thy pain, etc. . . . And unto Adam 1 
said : Because thou hast hearkened, etc. : this teaches th 
[first] the serpent was cursed, then Eve, and finally Ada 
was cursed. 2 

All copulate face to back, save three who copulate fa< 
to face, because the Shechinah spake with them, viz., Ma 
the serpent, and the fish. Whence do we know it of mar 
' And unto Adam (man) He said : Because thou hast hearkent 
unto the voice of thy wife. Of the serpent ? And th 
Lord God said unto the serpent. Of the fisl 
And the Lord spoke unto the fish (Jonah 11, 11). 

4. R. Hoshaya said : [The Almighty said to the serpent 
'All that thou didst do was on account of this womai 
was not all thy labour for her sake ? ' 3 R. Judah b. R. Simc 
said in R. Hoshaya's name: From the beginning of tl 
Book [of Genesis] up to this point the Divine Name occu 
seventy-one times: this intimates that he [the serpen 
was judged by a full court. 4 

1 Cf. Sanh. zga. 8 Ber. 61a; Ta'an 156. 

8 So that Adam might die and you could possess her; cf. supra, xvin, 
infra, 5. 4 Sanhedrin — the great Court consisted of 71 member 

v. Num. R. xiv, 12; Sanh. 2a. 

160 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. 4 

Cursed art thou, etc. R. Joshua of Siknin said 
in R. Levi's name : He cursed him with leprosy : for those 
scales [on the serpent] are leprosy. 1 

R. Eleazar said: Have you ever seen a man first beat 
his neighbour with a staff and then whip him again with 
a lash ? 2 Thus, [when God declared,] Cursed art 
thou from among all cattle, surely he is all 
the more cursed From among all the beasts of 
the field! 3 It was taught: Large clean cattle bear at 
nine months; large unclean cattle at twelve months; 
small clean cattle at five months; a dog at fifty days, a 
cat at fifty-two days, a swine at sixty days, a marten at 
seventy days, a deer and a fox at six months, and all other 
reptiles at six months ; a lion, bear, leopard, elephant, ape, 
and the long-tailed ape 4 at three years, a serpent at seven 
years, and an adder at seventy years. 5 

A certain philosopher wished to know after what 
period of time a serpent bears. When he saw them 
copulating he took them and placed them in a barrel and 
fed them until they bore. When the Sages visited Rome he 
asked them how long it takes a serpent to bear. R. 
Gamaliel turned pale [with shame] and could not answer 
him. R. Joshua, meeting him and seeing his face wan, 
asked him, 'Why is your face wan?' 'I was asked a 
question/ replied he, 'and I could not answer it.' 'And 
what is it ? ' ' After how long does a serpent bear ? ' ' After 
seven years/ he told him. 'How do you know that?' he 
inquired? 'Because the dog, which is a wild beast, 6 bears 
at fifty days, while it is written, More cursed art 
thou than all cattle, and than all beasts 
of the field: hence just as the cattle are seven times 

1 Ex. R. in, 13. 2 Which is lighter. — Surely noti 
s For cattle stand lower than beasts, since beasts are free, while cattle 
are under man's dominion (Th.). Behemah ('cattle 1 ) generally refers to 
domestic animals ; hayyah (' beasts ') to wild animals, beasts of the chase. 
* Var. lee. : hedgehog. 

5 Bek. 8a. — In this respect the serpent was more cursed than all living 
creatures. 6 In the ancient east dogs were semi- wild, not domes- 
ticated; v.J J?, art. Dog. 

161 m 



XX. 4~53 MIDRASH RABBAH 

more accursed than the beast, 1 so Is the serpent seven times 
more accursed than the cattle/ At eventide he [R. 
Gamaliel] went and told it to him [the philosopher], who 
began to beat his head against the wall [in grief], crying 
out, ' All that for which I toiled seven years, this man has 
come and offered to me on the end of a cane ! ' 2 

5. Upon thy belly shalt thou go. When the 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, Upon thy 
belly shalt thou GO, ministering angels descended 
and cut off his hands and feet, 3 and his cries resounded 
from one end of the world to the other. Thus the serpent 
comes to throw light upon the downfall of Babylonia and 
is itself illumined thereby, viz. The cry thereof shall go 
like the serpent's (Jer. xlvi, 22).* 

R. Judan and R. Huna discussed this. One taught: 
[God said to the serpent]: 'Through thee My creatures 
go bent with grief (gehonim) over their dead 5 ; so thou too, 
Upon thy belly (gehoneka) shalt thou go/ 6 

R. Eleazar said: Even God's curse contains a blessing. 
For had not the Almighty decreed, Upon thy belly 
shalt thou go, how could he flee to the wall and 
escape, or enter into a hole and escape ? 

And earth [E.V. 'dust'] shalt thou eat. R 
Hilpi said: It does not mean every kind of earth; rather 
does it [the serpent] burrow down until it reaches a rock or 
virginsoil, and then it draws out fibres of earth and eats them. 

1 The unclean large cattle bearing at 12 months. He interprets the verse 
thus : more cursed art thou than all cattle, to the same extent that cattle 
are more cursed than beasts. 

2 An idiom for doing something with absolute ease. — Bek. 8&. 

s Cf. infra, where it says that the serpent originally went upright like 
a man. 

4 The serpent's cry is employed as a simile to indicate the bitterness of 
Babylonia's downfall ; but since the repercussions of the latter were world- 
wide, it follows in turn that the serpent's cry too filled the world. The 
verse quoted refers to Egypt, not Babylonia (v, 20), and elsewhere the 
reading is Egypt. 

B Since but for the serpent there would have been no death. 
e There is a* lacuna in the text. Codex M. reads: and the other said: 
Through thee My creatures go with (yearning) bowels over their dead, 
therefore thou too, Upon thy belly shalt thou go. 

162 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. 5-6 

R. Levi said: In the Messianic age all will be healed 1 
save the serpent and the Gibeonite; the serpent, as it is 
written, And earth shall be the serpent's food (Isa. lxv, 
2s) 2 ; the Gibeonite: And they that serve the city, out of all 
the tribes of Israel, shall till it (Ezek. xlviii, 19), which 
means, all the tribes of Israel shall make them serve. 3 

R. Issi and R. Hoshaya in the name of R. Hiyya the 
Elder said four things : The Holy One, blessed be He, said 
to him [the serpent]: 'I made thee that thou shouldest 
be king over all cattle and beasts, but thou wouldst not 
have it; therefore, More cursed art thou, etc.; I 
made thee that thou shouldest go upright like man, but 
thou wouldst not; hence, Upon thy belly shalt 
thou go; I made thee that thou shouldst eat the food 
of man, but thou wouldst not ; hence, And earth 
shalt thou eat; thou didst desire to kill the man 
[Adam] and take his wife: therefore, And I will put 

AN ENMITY BETWEEN THEE AND THE WOMAN.' Thus 

what he desired was not given him, and what he possessed 
was taken from him. And we find the same in the case of 
Cain, Korah, Balaam, Doeg, Gehazi, Absalom, Adonijah, 
Uzziah, and Haman : what they desired was not given 
to them, and what they possessed was taken from them. 4 

6. Unto the woman He said: I will greatly 
multiply thy pain and thy travail, etc. (111, 
16). R. Judah b. R. Simon and R. Johanan in the name of 
R. Eleazar b. R. Simon said : The Holy One, blessed be He, 
never spoke directly with a woman save with that righteous 
woman [viz. Sarah], and that too was due to a particular 
cause. 5 R. Abba b. Kahana said in R. Biryi's name: And 
what a roundabout way He went in order to speak with 

1 I.e. freed of their disabilities. 

2 This refers to the Messianic age ; thus even then this curse shall lie 
upon it. * Who served hitherto — viz. the Gibeonites. Cf . infra, xcv, 1 . 
* V. Sot. o£. 

5 Because she denied that she had laughed. There is a lacuna in the text. 
J. Sot- 21& reads: But it is written, Unto the woman He 
said: I will greatly MULTIPLY, etc.? Said R. Jacob 
of Kefar Hanin : (He spoke that) through an intermediary. 

163 



XX, 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

her I As it is written, And He said: Nay; but thou didst 
laugh (Gen. xvm, 15). But it is written, And she [Hagar] 
called the name of the Lord that spoke unto her, etc. (ib. 
xvi, 13)? R. Joshua b. Nehemiah answered in R. Idi's 
name : That was through an angel. But it is written, And 
the Lord said unto her — Rebekah (ib. xxv, 23)? R. Levi 
said in the name of R. Hama b. R. Hanina: That was 
through an angel. R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Jose 
b. Zimra: That was through the medium of Shem [the 
son of Noah]. 1 

I WILL GREATLY MULTIPLY (HARBEH ARBEH) 

thy pain and thy travail. R. Abba b. Zutra 
said in Samuel's name : Every [foetus] that has [developed 
to the numerical value of] harbeh, I will multiply: i.e. 
a foetus that has developed for two hundred and twelve 
days is viable. 2 R. Huna said : When the foetus is so formed 
as to be born at seven months, and it is born either at 
seven months or at nine months, it is viable; if born at 
the eighth month, it cannot live. When it is formed so as to 
be born at nine, but is actually born at seven months, it 
cannot live, and all the more so if it is born at eight months. 
R. Abbahu was asked: How do we know that when the 
foetus is fully developed at seven months it is viable ? ' From 
your own language I will prove it to you/ replied he: 
'Live, seven; Go, eight.' 3 

R. Berekiah and R. Biba in Samuel's name said: A 
woman can give birth only at two hundred and seventy- 
one, two hundred and seventy-two, or two hundred and 
seventy-three days, which is at nine months plus the days 
of conception. 4 IJiyya b. Adda was sitting before Rab, 
who was explaining a subject to him, but he could not 
grasp it. 'Why can you not grasp it?' he asked. 'Because 
my ass is about to foal, and I am afraid that it may catch 
cold and die/ 'Why does it worry you now?' he rejoined; 
'sometimes it foals after a shorter period, sometimes after 

1 Infra, XLV, 10, et passim. 

2 The numerical value of r\y\n is 212 (n — 5, 1 — 200, n = 2, 
n = 5 = 212). 3 V. supra, xiv, 2. 

* A woman can conceive any time within three days of intercourse. 

164 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. 6-7 

a longer period, but even when it foals after a shorter 
period, it gives birth not earlier than a lunar year [after 
conception], while if after a longer period, it gives birth 
not later than a solar year [after conception]/ 1 Said he to 
him, ' But it is written, Knowest thou the time when the wild 
goats of the rock bring forth? . . . Or canst thou mark the 
months that they fulfil' (Job xxxix, if)? 2 'That refers to 
the case of small cattle 3 ; I am speaking of the case of large 
cattle/ he answered. 'But/ he rejoined, 'when Antoninus' 
herd were lying, and Rabbi's herd was made to copulate 
with them, some of them calved at the right time while 
others calved later?' 'There it was a case of clean [cattle]/ 
he answered, 4 'while here [we are discussing] an unclean 
animal. 1 

Thy pain refers to the pain of conception ;Thy 
travail, to the discomfort of pregnancy; In pain, 
to the sufferings of miscarriages; Shalt thou bring 
forth, to the agony of childbirth; Children, to the 
suffering involved in the upbringing of children. R. 
Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: It is easier for a man to grow 
myriads of olives in Galilee than to rear one child in Eretz 
Israel. 5 

7. And thy desire shall be to thy husband. 
There are four desires : the desire of a woman is for none 
but her husband: And thy desire shall be to 
thy husband. The desire of the Tempter 6 is for none 
but Cain and his associates: Sin coucheth at the door, and 
unto thee is its desire (Gen. iv, 7). The desire of rain is for 
nought but the earth : Thou hast remembered the earth, and 
them [sc. the rains] that desire her (Ps. lxv, 10). 7 And the 
desire of the Holy One, blessed be He, is for none but 
Israel: And His desire (teshukatho) is toward me (S.S. vn, 11): 



1 But here it was well before even a lunar year; why then worry 
beforehand ? 

2 I.e. even the months are not invariable, and it may bear before the 
usual twelve months. 

3 Their period cannot be known. 4 Their period is irregular. 
5 'Er. 1006. B Sin personified. 7 E.V. 'and watered her*. 



165 



XX. 7-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

We are weak (tashim), yet though weak [i.e. deficient 
in good deeds], we still hope (mekawim) for the salvation of 
the Holy One, blessed be He, 1 and declare the unity of 
the Lord's Name twice daily, when we recite, Hear, O 
Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One (Deut. VI, 4). 2 

Another interpretation of And thy desire shall 
be to thy husband: When a woman sits on the 
birthstool, she declares, 'I will henceforth never fulfil 
my marital duties/ whereupon the Holy One, blessed be 
He, says to her : ' Thou wilt return to thy desire, thou wilt 
return to the desire for thy husband.' R. Berekiah and R. 
Simon in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Because 
she fluttered in her heart, 3 she must bring a fluttering 
sacrifice [i.e. a bird]: She shall take two turtle-doves, or 
two young pigeons (Lev. xn, 8). 4 

And he shall rule over thee. R. Jose the 
Galilean said: You might think that his dominion holds 
good under all conditions: therefore it is stated, No man 
shall take the mill or the upper millstone to pledge (Deut. 
xxiv, 6). 5 It is related that a certain woman of the house of 
Tabrinus 6 was married to a mean beggar. 7 When he came 
to the Sages he produced a golden candelabrum with an 
earthen lamp standing upon it, in fulfilment of the verse, 
And thy desire shall be to thy husband. 8 

8. And unto Adam He said: Because thou 
hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife 
(hi, 17). R. Simlai said: She came upon him with her 
answers all ready, saying to him, 'What do you think? 
That I will die and another Eve will be created for you? 
There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1, 9). Or do you 

1 This is a play on inpwn, reading it as two words : twi (weak) and 

mpn (hope). 2 S.S. R. vn, 11. 

3 I.e. wavered in her faith; or ('Rashi') made a half-hearted vow of 

abnegation from her marital functions. * Nid. 31 6. 

6 This refers to a woman debtor; one may not seize a pledge from a 

woman, For he taketh a man's life to pledge (ib.) } i.e. the life that is destined 

to spring from her, while hobel (taketh to pledge) is perhaps translated ; 

injureth. 6 A wealthy family of noble birth. 7 Text as emended (Th.). 

8 He, though lower in birth than his wife, yet ruled over her. 

166 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. 8-9 

think that I will die while you remain idle ? He created it 
not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited' (Isa. xlv, 18). The 
Rabbis said: She began weeping aloud (be-kolah) over him; 
hence it is written, And unto Adam He said: Be- 
cause THOU HAST HEARKENED UNTO THE VOICE 
(be-kol) of thy wife: it is not written, 'To the 
words of thy wife/ but To the voice of thy wife. 1 

And hast eaten of the tree: this supports the 
view of R. Abba of Acco that it was an ethrog (citron). 2 

Of which I commanded thee to say 3 : I com- 
manded thee to forbid it to the cattle, beasts and birds 4 ; 
yet not only didst thou not forbid them, but thou even 
gavest them and they ate thereof. 

Cursed is the ground for thy sake, so that 
it will produce accursed things for you, such as gnats, 
midges, and fleas. Then let it produce [pests as large as] 
a camel for you ? Said R. Isaac of Magdala : In that there 
would be benefit too, for he could sell them and enjoy 
the proceeds. 5 

9. In toil (be-'izzabon) shalt thou eat of 
1 t . R. Issi said : The difficulties of earning a livelihood are 
twice as great as those of childbirth. In respect of birth 
it is written, 'In pain (be-'ezeb) shalt thou bring forth 
children,' whereas in respect of a livelihood it is written, 
In great pain (be-'izzabon) shalt thoueat 
of it. 6 R. Eleazar and R. Samuel b. Nahman — R. 
Eleazar said: Redemption is likened to the earning of a 
livelihood, and the reverse: just as redemption [requires 
the working of] wonders [by God], so does the earning of 
a livelihood require the same ; and just as the latter must 
be earned every day, so does redemption occur every day. 7 
R. Samuel b. Nahman said: It is even greater than 

1 Her voice raised in weeping. Supra, xix, 5. a V. supra, xv, 7. 

3 E.V. 'saying', v. next note. 4 Rendering: I commanded thee to say 

(to the animals too that it is forbidden). 5 V. supra v, 9. 

6 'Ezeb and Hzzdbon both belong to the same root, and the longer form 
implies intensification. 

7 God daily frustrates and redeems us from the evil machinations of 
our enemies (M.K.). 

167 



X 9~ 10 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

sdemption, for redemption comes through an angel, 
hereas sustenance comes through the Holy One, blessed 
2 He. Redemption comes through an angel, [as Jacob 
dd]: The angel who hath redeemed me from all evil 1 ; 
hereas sustenance comes through the Lord : Thou openest 
hy hand ; and satis fiest every living thing with favour 
>s. cxlv, 1 6). R. Joshua b. Levi said : [Sustenance requires] 
lore effort than the dividing of the Red Sea, for it is 
ritten, To Him who divided the Red Sea in sunder (ib. 
cxxvi, 13), and, Who giveth food to all flesh (ib. 25). 2 

10. Thorns (koz) also and thistles (dardar) 

HALL IT BRING FORTH TO THEE. KOZ is artichokes, 

hile dardar is cardoon. 3 Some reverse it : Koz 
cardoon, while dardar is artichokes, so called 
ecause it consists of rows (darim) above rows. 4 
And thou shalt eat the herb [grass] of 
he field. R. Judah and R. Nehemiah [differ in their 
Dmments]. R. Judah commented: Hadst thou merited 
., it would have brought forth of all the trees of the Garden 
f Eden for thy benefit; now that thou hast not merited, 
len Thorns also and thistles shall it bring 
orth to thee.R. Nehemiah said : Hadst thou merited 
:, thou wouldst have taken herbs from the Garden of 
;den and tasted in them all the delights of the world; 
ow that thou hast not merited it, Thou shalt eat 
he herb [grass] of the field. R. Isaac said: This 
'as said with reference to the present-day generations, 
rhen a man repeatedly plucks his field and eats it [the 
ftermath] while it is still herbage. When Adam heard this, 
is face broke out into a perspiration [of anguish] and he 
^claimed, ' What ! shall I be tied to the feeding-trough like 
beast!' Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him, 'Since 

Gen. xlviii, 16. 

The dividing of the Red Sea was for Israel only, whereas sustenance 
ust be provided for all flesh. 3 A species of edible thistles (Jast.). 
Artichokes grow in an imbricated form, i.e. overlapping each other like 
[es or shingles. These translations are based on the expression 
hall it bring forth to thee, which implies edible growths. 

168 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. IO-II 

thy face has sweated, Thou shalt eat bread* (ib. 
19). 1 R. Issi said: It had been better for him to remain 
with the first curse. 2 

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat 
bread. R. Abbahu said: This is one of the five things 
which are a favourable omen for an invalid, viz. : sneezing, 
perspiring, sleep, a dream, and semen. Sneezing, as it 
is written, His sneezings flash forth light (Job xli, 10); 
sweat: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou 
eat bread 3 ; sleep : I had slept : then it were well with me 
(Job in, 13) 4 ; a dream: Wherefore make me dream [E.V. 
'recover Thou me'] and make me live (Isa. xxxvm, 16); 
semen: He shall see seed [i.e. semen], and prolong his days 
(ib. liii, 10). Our Rabbis of Cassarea said: Also the natural 
motion of the bowels. What is the proof? When the waste 
matter* is speedily eliminated, he [the sick person] shall not 
die (ib. Li, 14). R. Haggai said in R. Isaac's name: 
Providing that His bread shall not fail (ib.). 6 

Till thou return unto the ground; for out 
of it wast thou taken. Said He to him: 'Is not 
the handful of dust whence thou wast created as unlawful 
spoil in thy possession?' 7 

For dust thou art, and unto dustshalt 
thou return. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Here 
Scripture hints at resurrection, for it does not say, 
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou 

go, but SHALT THOU RETURN. 8 

11. And the man called his wife's name 
Eve — Ha ww ah, i.e. life (in, 2). She was given to him 
for an adviser, but she played the eavesdropper like the 



1 Translating: On account of (E.V. 'in') the sweat of thy face, etc. 

2 Then he would have had less trouble in finding his food. — Pes. 11 8a. 

3 I.e. it is a sign of returning health. 

4 E.V. ' Then had I been at rest.' 

5 This is a play on words, ninx being read as rwtx. E.V. 'He that is bent 
down shall speedily be loosed* . 6 I.e. that he has an appetite for food. 

7 Which thou must give back to the earth. 

8 Which he interprets : thou shalt go to the dust, yet shalt thou return — 
at the resurrection. 



169 



XX. Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

serpent. 1 [Another interpretation]: He showed her 2 how 
many generations she had destroyed. R. Aha interpreted it : 
The serpent was thy [Eve's] serpent [i.e. seducer], and 
thou art Adam's serpent. 3 

Because she was the mother (em) of all 
living. R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: That means that she 
is associated with ('im) all living. It was taught: If [her 
husband] becomes wealthy, she rises with him; if he 
becomes poor, she does not descend with him. 4 R. Simon 
said: The mother of all living means, the mother 
of all life. 5 For R. Simon said: Throughout the entire 
one hundred and thirty years during which Adam held 
aloof from Eve the male demons were made ardent by her 
and she bore, while the female demons were inflamed by 
Adam and they bore, as it is written, If he commit iniquity, 
I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the afflictions 
of the children of man — Adam (il Sam. vii, 14), which 
means, the children of the first man. 6 (The reason for the 
view that house spirits are benevolent is because they dwell 
with him [man], 7 while the opinion that they are harmful 
is based on the fact that they understand man's evil 
inclinations. 8 He who maintains that the spirits of the 
field are benevolent does so because they do not grow up 

1 This is a play on f katowah\ which is connected here with both hawiveh 
(sc. daathy an opinion), to show forth, i.e. state (an opinion), and hiwya, 
a serpent. — As the serpent had eavesdropped when God commanded 
Adam to refrain from the forbidden tree, so did she in turn listen to the 
serpent when he incited her to disobedience — and persuaded Adam 
accordingly. Cur. edd. : but she counselled him as the serpent (bade her). 
a V. preceding note. 3 Infra> xxri, 2. 

4 A wife must perform certain duties, but if she brings some servants 
with her as a dowry, she is free from them. Now if her husband becomes 
wealthy and buys them himself, she is likewise free; thus she rises with 
him. If on the other hand he becomes poor and must sell the slaves she 
brought as her dowry, she can still refuse to work, as she does not 
descend with him. Thus she is associated with him in living, sc. wealth, 
but not in death, poverty being so regarded. — Cf. Keth. 48a, 61a. 
6 Even of demons. Infra, xxiv; v. *Er. 18b. 

6 Afflictions is understood to mean demons, and is in apposition to the 
children of man. 

7 And benefit from him : therefore they return good for good. 

8 Hence they know his weakness and vulnerability to harm. — Our evil 
inclinations lay us open to attack and hurt. 

170 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XX. 11-12 

with him, while as for the view that they are harmful, the 
reason is because they do not comprehend his evil 
inclinations.) 1 

12. And the Lord God made for Adam and 
his wife garments of skin (*or), and clothed 
them (in, 21). In R. Meir's Torah it was found written, 
' Garments of light (or) ' 2 : this refers to Adam's garments, 
which were like a torch [shedding radiance], broad at the 
bottom and narrow at the top. Isaac the Elder said : They 
were as smooth as a finger-nail and as beautiful as a jewel. 
R. Johanan said: They were like the fine linen garments 
which come from Bethshean, 3 Garments of skin 
meaning those that are nearest to the skin. R. Eleazar 
said : They were of goats' skin. R. Joshua said : Of hares' 
skin. R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: It was a garment made of 
skin with its wool. Resh Lakish said: It was of Circassian 
wool, and these were used [later] by first-born children. 4 
R. Samuel b. Nahman said : [They were made from] the wool 
of camels and the wool of hares, Garments of 
skin meaning those which are produced from the 
skin. 5 

R. Levi said: The Torah teaches you here a rule of 
worldly wisdom : spend according to your means on food ; 
less than you can afford on clothing, but more than you 
can afford on a dwelling. Spend according to your means 
on food, as it is written, Of every tree of the garden thou 
mayest freely eat (Gen. 11, 16). Less than you can afford on 
clothing: And the Lord God made . . . garments 
of skin, and clothed them. 6 More than you can 
afford on a dwelling : for lo ! they were but two, yet they 
dwelt in the whole world. 7 



1 M.K. transposes 'benevolent' and 'harmful*, which certainly improves 
the sense. 

2 I.e. nix light, instead of Tii> skin. s V. supra, xix, i. 

4 When they used to perform the sacrificial service, before the priests 
were chosen for it; v. infra, lxiii, 13 ; Num. R. IV, 8. 
* Viz. the wool that comes off it. 

6 I.e. only simple, not expensive garments. 

7 Cf. Pes. 114a; 5ul. 84^. 

171 



XXI. i] 

Chapter XXI (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord God said: Behold, the man is 
become as one of us (in, 22). It is written, Then I 
heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said unto 
that certain one who spoke, etc. (Dan. vm, 13). 'One' refers 
to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, The 
Lord our God, the Lord is one (Dent, vi, 4). ' Holy '—because 
all proclaim before Him, 'Holy!* 'Speaking': pronouncing 
severe decrees against His creatures, viz. : Thorns also and 
thistles shall it bring forth to thee (Gen. ill, 18). 'And another 
holy one said unto that certain one (lapalmoni) who spoke * : 
R. Huna said: It means, to So-and-so [a certain person]. 1 
Akilas translated it: He spoke to him who was within, 2 
which refers to Adam, whose partition was within that of 
the ministering angels. 3 How long shall be the vision con- 
cerning the continual burnt-offering (Dan. he. cit.)? Shall 
the decree which was decreed against Adam continue 
for ever? Surely not! And the transgression that causeth 
desolation (ib.): shall his transgression make him desolate 
in the grave? 4 To give both the sanctuary and the host to be 
trampled underfoot (ib.): shall he and his descendants be 
trampled down by the angel of death! 5 And he said unto 
me: Until evening — morning two thousand and three 
hundred 6 ; then shall the sanctuary be victorious {ib. 14). 
R. 'Azariah and R. Jonathan b. Haggai in R. Isaac's name 
observed : Surely when it is evening it is not morning and 
when it is morning it is not evening? But the meaning is 

1 Rashi explains: i.e. this statement (in v. 14) was made to the one who 
cried (v. 13). 2 Translating lapalmoni as lipnimi. 

3 He was privileged to come more closely within the precincts of God than 
were even the angels. The picture is that of a series of partitions or barriers 
before God, and the more privileged one was, the nearer was he permitted 
to approach Him. 

4 *EJ.: shall he remain desolate in the grave for ever on account of his 
sin and never experience resurrection? — The translation is somewhat 
conjectural. Man. explains differently. 

5 Treating sanctuary as a metaphor for Adam, or translating \odesh 
directly: the holy one, viz. Adam, and 'host' his descendants. 

6 Lit. translation, which must be retained here. 

172 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXI. I-3 

this : when the morning of the nations of the world turns 
to evening, and the evening of Israel to morning, 1 at that 
time, ' Then shall the sanctuary be declared righteous,' i.e. 
I will declare him clear 2 of that decree : then, The 
Lord God saith: Behold, let the man become 
as one of us. 3 

2. I" went by the field of the slothful man (ish), and by 
the vineyard of the person (Adam) void of understanding 
(Prov. xxiv, 30). R. Huna said: Behold, if one buys a field 
or a vineyard and is designated person (ish) or man, yet 
is dubbed lazy, what benefit has one [from the title of 
'man']? 4 'I went by the field of the slothful man, 1 however, 
refers to Adam, while, 'And by the vineyard of the person 
(Adam) void of understanding' refers to Eve. 5 R. Huna said: 
Where do we find that Eve is called Adam? — According 
to the beauty of Adam, to dwell in the house (Isa. xliv, 13). 6 
And lo, it was all grown over with thistles (Prov. xxiv, 31), 
as it is written, ' Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth 
to thee' (Gen. in, 18). The face thereof was covered with 
nettles (Prov. loc. cit.) : In the sweat of thy face, etc. (Gen. 
Hi, 19). And the stone wall thereof was broken down (Prov. 
loc. cit.) : Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the 
garden of Eden (Gen. in, 23) : having sent him forth He 
began to bewail him, saying, Behold, the man was 
as one of us. 7 

3. Though his stature [E.V. ' excellency '] mount up to 
the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds (Job xx, 6), 

1 I.e. when the former are degraded and the latter elevated. 

2 Lit. * righteous ' — as a person who having paid the penalty of his sin 
now starts with a clean sheet. 

3 Immortal, translating it as an imperative, as though it read n?.n, not n*n. 

4 I.e. it should simply say slothful and one void of understanding, man 
and person being understood. 

5 Tanhuma completes it: . . .to Adam, who was slothful to repent . . . 
to Eve, who was void of understanding in hearkening to the serpent. 
And, lo, it was all grown over with thistles {ib. 31) — i.e. they spread 
punishment in the world. 6 Since it is woman who normally stays at 
home, Adam there must refer to her. 7 Lit. translation, — but is so no 
longer: he was immortal, but is now mortal. 

173 



XXI. 3-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

i.e. until [his stature] reaches the clouds. 1 R. Joshua b. 
tlanina 2 and R. Judah b. R. Simon in R. Eleazar's name 
said: He created him extending over the whole world. 
How do we know [that he extended] from east to west? 
Because it is said, Thou hast formed me behind (ahor) and 
before — kedem (Ps. cxxxrx, 5). How do we know, from 
north to south? Because it says, Since the day that God 
created man upon the earthy and from one end of heaven unto 
the other (Deut. iv, 32). How do we know that he filled 
the hollow spaces of the world also? 3 From the verse, 
And Thou didst lay Thy hand upon me (Ps. he. cit.). 4 

Yet he shall perish for ever like his own rolling — E.V. 
'dung' (Job xx, 7): because he rolled away [i.e. disobeyed] 
an easy command, he was banished from the garden of 
Eden. They that have seen him shall say: Where is he? 
(ib.): i.e. where is man (Adam). Having sent him forth, 
He began to bewail him, saying, Where 5 is the man 

WHO WAS AS ONE OF US? 

4. Thou makest him strong for ever (Job xiv, 20) : the 
strength with which the Holy One, blessed be He, endowed 
Adam was intended to be 'for ever\ for all time; But he 
goeth: since he ignored God's wishes and went after the 
counsel of the serpent, Thou changest his countenance and 
sendest him away (ib.). Having sent him away, He began 
bewailing him, saying : Behold, the man was a s 

ONE OF US. 6 

5. Behold, the man has become, etc. R. 
Pappyas lectured: Behold, the man has become 
like one of us (mimmennu) means like one of the 
ministering angels. Said R. Akiba to him : Let that suffice 
thee, Pappyas. 7 How then do you interpret mimmennu? 

1 This is probably an explanation of ww, and intimates that it is to 
be translated stature. s Th. amends: b. R. Nehemiah. 
8 I.e. all the space from earth to heaven. € V. supra, vnr, 1, for notes. 
4 Translating \n (E.V. 'behold') as the Aramaic \n where. 

6 He enjoyed our strength, but does so no longer. Supra, xvi, 1. 

7 You go too far (it is incorrect). 

174 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXI. 5-6 

It means that the Holy One, blessed be He, set two ways 
before him, life and death, and he chose the other path. 1 
R. Judah b. R. Simon interpreted: Like the Unique One 
of the universe, 2 as it is written, Hear, O Israel; the Lord 
our God, the Lord is one (Deut. vi, 4). Our Rabbis said: 
Like Gabriel : And one man in the midst of them clothed in 
linen (Ezek. ix, 2): like a snail whose garment is part of 
its body. 3 Resh Lakish said: [He has become] like Jonah, 
[of whom is written], But as one was felling a beam, etc. 
(11 Kings vi, 5) 4 : just as the latter fled [from God's com- 
mand], 5 so the former fled 6 ; just as that one's glory did 
not stay the night with him, 7 so this one's glory too did 
not stay a night with him. 8 R. Berekiah said in R. Hanina's 
name : Like Elijah : just as he did not experience the taste 
of death, so [Adam] too was not meant to experience 
death. 9 The view of R. Berekiah in R. ijanan's name is 
that as long as there was [only] Adam he was one, but when 
his rib was taken from him, it was To know good and evil. 10 

6. And now lest (pen) he put forth his 
hand. R. Abba b. Kahana said: This teaches that the 

1 That which God did not wish him to choose, viz. death. Th. : R. Akiba 

treats ' mimmennu ' as 3rd sing. (* of himself), not r st pi. (' of us '), translating: 

Behold, the man has become as one who knows good and evil of himself, 

of his own free will, and thereby has himself chosen the path of death. 

V. S.S. R. 1, 9, § 2. 2 Godlike and immortal, translating: the man 

was like the One who is among us, sc. God. 

8 Just as 'one' refers there to Gabriel, so here, too. The relevance of 

'like a snail* is not clear. It is perhaps best to regard it with Y.M. as a 

parenthetic remark : since the verse in Ezek. refers to Gabriel, how then 

could an angel be dressed in linen ? To which the answer is given that his 

dress, though appearing as linen, was an integral part of himself. 

* The Midrash evidently assumes that this was Jonah. Similarly, in 

Seder 'Olam, ch. xvui, the verse, And EHsha . . . called one of the sons of 

the prophets (ib. ix, 1), is also applied to Jonah (Th.). 

6 To carry the tidings of Nineveh's overthrow; v. Jonah 1, 3. 

6 He too disobeyed God's command. 

7 The gourd which God caused to spring up for him, in his honour, 
as it were, was smitten in a single night (ib. in, 10). 

8 V. supra, xr, 1. s But for his sin. 

10 I.e. the immediate effect of Eve's creation was that Adam should sin. 
He translates: Behold, the man was as one, i.e. wholehearted in his 
obedience to God, but now (that he has Eve) he has been enabled To 
know good and evil. 

17s 



XXI. 6~7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Holy One, blessed be He, provided him with an oppor- 
tunity of repentance. And now: this can only refer to 
repentance, as you read, And now, Israel, what doth the 
Lord God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, etc. 
(Deut. x, 12) 1 : pen (lest) can only mean 'not'. 2 Then 
the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Shall he put 

FORTH HIS HAND, AND EAT ALSO OF THE TREE OF 

life? while if he does eat, He will live for ever. 
Therefore The Lord God sent him forth from 
the garden of Eden. Having sent him forth, He 
began lamenting him: 'Behold, the Man,' etc. 

7. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth 
from the garden of Eden (hi, 27). R. Judah and 
R. Nehemiah differ. R. Judah said: He was sent forth 
from the garden of Eden in this world and in the next. 
R. Nehemiah maintained: He was sent forth from the 
garden of Eden in this world, but not in the next. In R. 
Judah's view He laid a severe punishment upon him, while 
in that of R. Nehemiah He was lenient toward him. R. 
Huna said: R. Adda b. Ahawah and R. Hamnuna disputed 
on this, one agreeing with R. Judah, the other with R. 
Nehemiah. Now the following supports R. Nehemiah: 
As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall 
be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness (Ps. xvn, 15). 
[David said]: When he who was created in Thy likeness 
[viz. Adam] awakes, I shall be satisfied, and in righteous- 
ness I shall behold Thy face, and then I shall regard him 
as free of that decree. 3 Concerning that time [it is written], 
'And the Lord God saith; Behold, the man has [now] 
become as one of us,' etc. 4 

R. Joshua b. Levi said: When He created him, He 



1 Cf. infra, xxxvm, 9. 

2 Thus God invited Adam to repent, but Adam said, I will not. 

3 The verse is thus rearranged, and is interpreted: As for me (said David), 
I shall behold Thy face when Adam (i.e. man) has expiated his sin and 
is thus completely righteous; I shall be satisfied on the awakening (the 
inf. is used in the Hebiew, which may bear this meaning) of him who 
was created in Thy likeness. 4 Free from sin. 



176 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXL 7-8 

created him by His Attributes of Justice and Mercy, 1 
and when He banished him, He likewise banished him in 
accordance with His Attributes of Justice and Mercy 2 : 
thus it is written, 'Behold, the man,' etc.: O man, thou 
couldst not remain loyal to thy charge even for a single 
hour! 3 Judah b. Padiah lectured: O that one might uncover 
the dust from thine eyes, O Adam, who couldst not remain 
loyal to thy charge even for a single hour, yet thy children 
wait for 'orlah three years, as it is written, Three years 
shall it be as forbidden [lit. ' uncircumcised '] unto you, it 
shall not be eaten (Lev. xix, 23) ! R. Huna observed: When 
Bar Kappara heard this, he exclaimed: Thou hast taught 
well, O Judah the son of my sister! 4 

8. So He drove out the man (hi, 24). R. 
Johanan said : Like the daughter of a priest who has been 
divorced 5 and cannot return [to her husband] ; R. Simeon 
b. Lakish said: Like the daughter of an Israelite [i.e. a 
non-priest] who has been divorced and is able to return. 6 
In R. Johanan's view He was severe towards him 7 ; in the 
view of R. Simeon b. Lakish, He was lenient toward him. 

So He drove out (wayyegaresh) the man. 
[Read] wayyagres, which intimates that He showed him 
the destruction of the Temple, [in connection with which 
it is written], He hath also broken (wayyagres) my teeth 
with gravel stones (Lam. in, 16). 8 R. Lulianus b. Tibri 
[Tiberius] said in R. Isaac's name : He banished him to the 
open outskirts (migrash) of the Garden of Eden, and 

1 These two together were to be the foundations of God's rule over 
mankind. 

2 His expulsion was an act of justice, yet it was tempered with mercy, 
since he did not die immediately. 

3 An impression of commiseration for his frailty. * Lev. R. XXV, z. 
6 In Heb. the same word connotes expulsion and divorce. 

6 By ' daughter ', ' wife ' is meant, as they generally married into their own 
rank. A priest might not remarry his divorced wife. 

7 He can never return to the garden of Eden, even in the next world. 

8 By a play on words erwi is read tnn, and so made to veil an 
allusion to the destruction of the Temple. The Rabbis probably meant 
to convey that even here we find a hint that that catastrophe was the 
result of sin. 

177 N 



XXI. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

appointed watchmen to watch over it, as it is written, 
I will also command the clouds, that they rain no rain upon 
it (Isa. v, 6). 1 

9. At the east (mi-kedem). Rab said: In every 
case the east affords an asylum. To Adam : So He drove 
out the man, and caused him to dwell [sic] at the east of 
the Garden of Eden. To Cain : And Cain went out from the 
presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the 
east of Eden (Gen. iv, 16). To a homicide: Then Moses 
separated three cities beyond the Jordan towards the sun- 
rising — i.e. in the east (Deut. iv, 41). 

Another interpretation : Mi-kedem teaches that the 
angels were created before (kodem) the Garden of Eden, 2 
as it is written, This is the living creature that I saw under 
the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they 
were cherubim (Ezek. x, 20). And the flaming 
sword: [the angels are so called] in accordance with the 
verse, His ministers are as flaming fire (Ps. civ, 4). 
Which turns every way: they [the angels] change 
[turn about]: sometimes they appear as men, sometimes 
as women, sometimes as spirits, sometimes as angels. 3 

Another interpretation : Mi-kedem: before {kodem) 
the Garden of Eden the Gehenna was created, the Gehenna 
having been created on the second day, and the Garden of 
Eden not till the third. And the flaming sword 
[refers to Gehenna, so designated] in accordance with, 
And the day that cometh shall set them aflame (Mai. in, 19). 
That turns every way: because it [Gehenna] 
revolves about man and burns him up from head to foot. 
Said Adam: 'Who will deliver my children from this 
flaming fire?' R. Huna said in R. Abba's name: 
Sword refers to circumcision, as it is written, Make thee 
knives 4 " of flint, and circumcise again, etc. (Josh, v, 2). Our 

1 It appears that the whole passage there (Isa. v, 1 seqq.) is applied to 
Adam. In this interpretation ' wayyegaresh' is connected with migrash. 

2 Translating : and He caused the cherubim, i.e. the angels, to exist 
before the Garden of Eden (was created). 

3 Ex. R. xxv, z. — Thus the whole passage is referred to angels. 

4 Heb. harboth t pi. con. of hereby sword. 

178 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXI. 9 

Rabbis said : Sword refers to the Torah, as it is 
written, And a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. cxlix, 6). 1 
When Adam saw that his descendants were fated to be 
consigned to Gehenna, he engaged less in 2 procreation. 
But when he saw that after twenty-six generations Israel 
would accept the Torah, 3 he applied himself to producing 
descendants; hence, And Adam knew Eve his wife (Gen. 
iv, 1). 

1 The idea is that the merit of circumcision and the study of the Torah 

would deliver his descendants from Gehenna (Y.T.). 

a Lit. translation. Possibly it means here: he refrained (entirely). 

s V. supra, 1, 10. 



179 



XXII. 1-2] 

Chapter XXII (BERESHITHj 

i. And the man knew Eve his wife (iv, i): 
Remember, O Lord, Thy compassions and Thy mercies, for 
they have been from of old (Ps. xxv, 6). R. Joshua b. 
Nehemiah interpreted it: [Show Thy mercies] wherewith 
Thou didst treat Adam, for thus saidst Thou to him, 
For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die 
(Gen. II, 17), and hadst Thou not given him one day of 
Thine, which is a thousand years, how could he have applied 
himself to begetting posterity [descendants]? Hence, 
And the man knew, etc. 1 

2. And the man knew, etc. R. Huna and R. 
Jacob in R. Abba's name said : No creature ever copulated 
before Adam : it is not written, man knew, but And 
the man 2 ; knew intimates that he made known sexual 
functions to all. [Another interpretation]: He knew how 
he had been robbed of his tranquillity ; he knew what his 
serpent [i.e. Eve, his tempter] had done to him. 3 R. Aha 
observed: The serpent was thy serpent, and thou wast 
Adam's serpent. 4 

And she conceived and bore Cain. R. Eleazar 
b. 'Azariah said: Three wonders were performed on that 
day : on that very day they were created, on that very day 
they cohabited, and on that very day they produced off- 
spring. R. Joshua b. Karhah said: Only two entered the 
bed, and seven left it: Cain and his twin sister, Abel and 
his two twin sisters. 5 

And she said: I have gotten a man, etc. R. 
Isaac said: When a woman sees that she has children she 
exclaims, "Behold, my husband is now in my possession/ 6 

1 Cf. supra, vni, 2; Num. R.xxm, 13. 

2 The def . art. implies that he was so far unique in this respect. 

3 Viz. she aroused sexual desire. Thus knew is referred to both the 
preceding verses (Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden) and the 
following ones (sexual gratification). 

* Supra, XX, 11. s Infra, xxiv, 6; v. Sanh. 38^ 586. 

e I.e. a child binds husband to wife. He translates: I have now a man 

(sc. Adam) in my possession, through having given birth to Cain. 

180 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. 2~4 

With the help of (eth) the Lord. R. Ishmael 
asked R. Akiba : ' Since you have served 1 Nahum of Gimzo 
for twenty-two years, [and he taught], Every ok and rah 
is a limitation, while every eth and gam is an extension, 
tell me what is the purpose of the eth written here?' 
'If it said, "I have gotten a man the Lord/" he replied, 
' it would have been difficult [to interpret] 2 ; hence eth 
[with the help of] the Lord is required. 1 There- 
upon he quoted to him : For it is no empty thing from you 
(Deut. xxxii, 47), and if it is empty, it is so on your account, 3 
because you do not know how to interpret it. Rather, 
eth the Lord [teaches this]: In the past, Adam 
was created from the ground, and Eve from Adam; but 
henceforth it shall be, In our image, after our likeness 
(Gen. 1, 26): neither man without woman nor woman 
without man, nor both of them without the Shechinah^ 

3. And again (wa-tosef) she bore his 
brother Abel (iv, 2). This supports what R. Joshua 
b. Karhah said: They ascended the bed two and descended 
seven, for And she again bore implies an additional 
birth, but not an additional pregnancy. 5 

And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain 
was a tiller of the ground. Three had a passion 
for agriculture, and no good was found in them: Cain, 
Noah, and Uzziah. Cain was a tiller of the 
ground; Noah the husbandman (Gen. ix, 20); Uzziah: 
For he loved husbandry (11 Chron. xxvi, 10). 6 

4. And at the end of days it came to pass 
(iv, 3). R. Eliezer and R. Joshua disagree. R. Eliezer 
said: The world was created in Tishri; R. Joshua said: 

1 I.e. studied under. The term * served' is generally employed because 

disciples gave personal service to their teachers. 

8 It might imply that she had begotten the Lord. 

a Cf. supra, 1, 14. 4 Supra, vm, 9. This agrees with the E.V. 

5 Abel having been conceived simultaneously with Cain. The additional 
birth therefore is that two twin sisters were born with Abel, but only 
one with Cain. 

6 Cain became a murderer, Noah a drunkard, and Uzziah a leper. 

181 



XXII. 4-SJ MIDRASH RABBAH 

In Nisan. He who says in Tishri holds that Abel lived from 
the Festival 1 until Ilanukkah. 2 He who says in Nisan holds 
that Abel lived from Passover until Pentecost. In either 
case, all agree that Abel was not in the world more than 
fifty days. 3 

5. . . . that Cain brought of the fruit of 
the ground: of the inferior crops, 4 he being like a bad 
tenant who eats the first ripe figs but honours the king 
with the late figs. 5 

And Abel, he also brought of the first- 
lings of his flock and of the fat thereof 
(iv, 4). R. Eleazar and R. Jose b. R. rjanina differ. 
R. Eleazar said: The children of Noah 6 brought even 
peace-offerings 7 ; R. Jose b. R. rlanina said: They brought 
burnt-offerings. 8 R. Eleazar sought to refute R. Jose b. 
R. rlanina : But it is written, And of the fat 
thereof, implying that of which the fat is offered. 9 
How did R. Jose b. R. IJanina answer him? — It means, of 
the fat ones [i.e. the best]. R. Eleazar sought to refute 
R. Jose b. R. Hanina: But it is written, And he sent the 

1 Tabernacles, which commences on the 15th of Tishri. 

2 The feast of lights, commencing on the 25th of Kislew. 

3 The passage is difficult. Both assume that Atthe end of days 
means at the end of one of the seasons of the year; and that Abel was 
murdered on the very day of the sacrifice, R. Eliezer applies it to autumn, 
R. Joshua to spring, so that At the end of days will mean about 
mid-winter (about 21st December) or midsummer (about 21st June), 
after which the seasons begin to change, and Hanukkah and Pentecost 
fall about these dates respectively. But 'Passover' and 'Tabernacles' 
are employed here loosely, the beginning of Nisan or Tishri being actually 
meant, and similarly Pentecost and Hanukkah, a date about a fortnight 
before being meant — otherwise the period is above 60 days. If on the 
other hand these are exact, then 50 is only stated approximately. 

* This is deduced from the fact that it does not say, of the first of the fruit. 
5 The former were esteemed a special delicacy; v. Isa. xxviii, 4; Jer. 
xxiv, 2. 8 'The children of Noah' is a general term for all mankind 

before Revelation. 7 And certainly burnt-offerings. 

8 But not peace-offerings, the fat of which was burnt on the altar while 
the flesh was eaten. Th.: because before the Revelation people were 
unworthy of enjoying any part of an animal consecrated to God. Y.T. 
states a somewhat similar reason. Infra , xxxrv, 9 ; Lev. R. ix, 6 ; Zeb. 11 6a. 

9 But not the whole,— hence a peace-offering. 

182 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. 5 

young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt- 
offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings (shelamim) of oxen 
unto the Lord (Ex. xxiv, 5)? 1 How does R. Jose b. R. 
flanina explain this? — It means that they were whole 
(shelemim) in their hide, without having been flayed or 
cut up. 2 R. Eleazar objected to R. Jose b. R. Hanina: But 
it is written, And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt- 
offering and sacrifices (ib. xviii, 12)? How does R. Jose b. 
R. Hanina explain this ? — He agrees with the view that 
Jethro came after Revelation. R. Huna said : R. Jannai and 
R. Hiyya the Elder differ in this. R. Jannai said: Jethro 
came before Revelation; R. IJiyya the Elder said: Jethro 
came after Revelation. R. Hanina observed: They do not 
really differ : he who says that Jethro came before Revela- 
tion holds that the children of Noah might offer peace- 
offerings; while he who says that Jethro came after 
Revelation holds that they might offer burnt- offerings 
[only]. 3 Now the following supports R. Jose b. R. Hanina: 
Awake, O north wind (S.S. IV, 16) : this alludes to the bumt- 
offering, which was killed at the north [side of the altar]. 4 
To what does 'Awake 1 apply? To something which was 
asleep and now awakes. 5 And come, thou south (ib,) alludes 
to peace-offerings, which were killed [even] at the south 
[side of the altar]. 6 To what does 'come' apply? To a new 

1 This was before Revelation (v. p. 182, n. 6). 2 He translates: . . . 

who offered peace-offerings, and sacrificed the oxen whole. 

8 In the passage, Jethro . . . took a burnt-offering and sacrifices, 'sacrifices 1 

must refer to peace-offerings, since a burnt-offering is stated separately. 

Now actually there is nothing to indicate when Jethro came, but R. Jannai 

holds that the children of Noah might offer peace-offerings; therefore 

this incident may have happened even before Revelation. But R. Hiyya 

the Elder holds that they could only offer burnt-offerings. Hence when 

we find Jethro sacrificing peace-offerings, it must have been after 

Revelation, when he accepted the Law and thus ceased to belong to the 

'children of Noah'. — The fact that the incident is narrated before 

Revelation does not matter, as it is a principle of Rabbinic exegesis that 

the Bible is not necessarily in chronological order. 

4 Lev. 1, n; S.S. R. I, 3, § 1 {Let him kiss me with the kisses of his 

mouth). 

6 I.e. it had been practised long before, ceased for a time, and is now to 

be practised again. 

6 The peace-offering could be slain at any side of the altar. 

183 



XXII. 5- 6 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

practice. 1 R. Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi's name: The 
following verse, too, supports R. Jose b. R. Ilanina: This 
is the law of the burnt-offering : that is the burnt-offering 
(Lev. VI, 2), 2 viz. which the Noachides used to offer. 
But when it treats of peace-offerings, viz. And this is the 
law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings (ib. vn, n), it is not 
written, 'Which they offered/ 3 but Which they will offer 
(ib.) — in the future. 

6. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and 
to his offering. He accepted it. 4 

But unto Cain and his offering He had not 
respect (iv, 5). He did not accept it. 

And Cain was very wroth (wayyihar) and 
his countenance fell: [His face] became like a 
firebrand. 5 

And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art 
thou wroth? And why is thy countenance 
fallen? if thou doest well, wilt thou not 
receive 6 (iv, 6 f)— a blessing; And if thou doest 
not well, receive (ib.) — a curse. 7 Another interpre- 
tation: If thou doest well, I will forgive thee 8 ; 
but if not, thy sin 9 overflows the brim. 10 R. Berekiah quoted 
in R. Simeon's name : Happy is he who is uplifted over trans- 
gression, 11 whose sin is pardoned (Ps. xxxii, i) : this means, 
happy is he who is [master] over his transgressions, 12 but 
his transgressions are not [master] over him. 

1 Thus it was only now, after Revelation, that the practice of sacrificing 
peace-offerings was introduced, v. S.S. R. loc. cit. 

2 E.V. 'It is that which goeth up'. 

3 Which would connote, in the past, before Revelation. 

4 Lit. 'He was satisfied (propitiated) therewith.' 

5 Blackened. ' Wayyihar ' is derived from harah, to burn, cf. Ezek. xxiv, 
io; Ps. cu, 4, and the verse is translated: And Cain was burnt up, i.e 
blackened. * E.V. 'Shall it not be lifted up'. 

7 Seeth is read with the preceding and the following clauses. 

8 This interprets se'eth in the sense of nasa, to bear with, forgive. 
* Lit. 'the sin of that man.' 

10 Here too se'eth is read both ways, but when read with the clause that 
follows it it is derived from se'ah, a measure — the sin overflows the 
measure. X1 E.V. c Whose transgression is forgiven . 
12 Who can master his evil propensities. 

184 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. 6 

Sin coucheth (robez) at the door. Not 
robezeth [fern.] but robez [masc] is written here : at 
first sin is weak, like a woman, but then it grows strong, like 
a man. R. Akiba said : At first it is like a spider's web, but 
eventually it becomes like a ship's rope, as it is written, 
Woe to them that draw iniquity with trifling cords [E.V. 
' cords of vanity'], and sin as it were with a cart rope (Isa. v, 
1 8). R. Isaac said: At first it is like a [passing] visitor, then 
like a guest [who stays longer], and finally like the master 
of the house. Thus it is written, And there came a traveller 
unto the rich man (n Sam. xn, 4): [this represents the 
Tempter] as a traveller who passes on; And he spared to 
take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the 
guest [E.V. ' wayfaring man '] that was come unto him (ib.) : 
now he is a guest ; And he dressed it for the man 1 that was 
come to him (ib.) : he is now the master. 

R. Tanhum b. Marion said: There are dogs in Rome 
that know how to deceive men. One [a dog] goes and sits 
down before a baker's shop and pretends to be asleep, and 
when the shopkeeper dozes off he dislodges a loaf near the 
ground, 2 and while the onlookers are collecting [the 
scattered loaves] he succeeds in snatching a loaf and making 
off. 3 

R. Abba b. Judan said: It is like a decrepit brigand who 
sat at the crossroads and ordered every passer-by to 
surrender his possessions, until a shrewd person passed by 
and saw that he was feeble, whereupon he began to crush 
him. Similarly, the Tempter destroyed many generations — 
the generation of Enosh, the generation of the Flood, and 
the generation of the separation [of races]. But when 
Abraham arose and saw how really feeble he was, he began 
to crush him, as it is written, And I will beat to pieces his 
adversaries before him (Ps. lxxxix, 24). 4 



1 He is no longer spoken of as a traveller or guest, but simply 'man* — 

the master of the house. 2 Thus scattering the whole pile. 

8 Thus sin pretends to sleep until it catches its victim off his guard. 

This is a comment on Sin coucheth (i.e. pretends to sleep). 

* Thus Sin coucheth at the doo r — his strength being only 

simulated. 



185 



XXII. 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

R. Ammi said: The Tempter does not walk at the side 
[of the street] but in the broad highway, 1 and when he sees 
a person rolling his eyes, smoothing his hair [in self- 
satisfaction], and lifting his heel [in pride], he exclaims, 
'This man belongs to me!' What is the proof? Seest thou 
a man wise in his own eyes ? The fool [sc. sin] hath hope of 
him (Prov. xxvi, 12). R. Abin said: If one indulges his evil 
bent in his youth, it will eventually rule over him in his old 
age. What is the proof? He that indulgeth [E.V. "delicately 
bringeth up'] his servant in youth shall have him become a 
master at the last (ib. xxix, 21). 2 

R. Hanina said : If your Tempter comes to incite you to 
levity, cast him down with the words of the Torah, as it is 
written, The [evil] imagination, when near to thee, thou 
shalt combat — tizzor (Isa. xxvi, 3). 3 And if you do so, I 
attribute merit to you as though you had created peace, 
[as the verse continues], Thou createst (tizzor) peace ($.) 4 : 
not tinzor (thou shalt keep) is written, but 'tizzor' (thou 
shalt create). And should you argue that he is not in your 
power, then Surely it is safe in thee (ib.) } 5 and I have already 
written for you in the Torah, And unto thee is its 

DESIRE, BUT THOU MAYEST RULE OVER IT. R. 

Simon said : If your Tempter comes to incite you to levity, 
gladden it with the words of the Torah, 6 for it says, 
' The evil imagination is gladdened (samuk)/ 7 And if you 
do so, I attribute merit to you as though you had created 
two worlds, for shalom (peace) is written here not once but 
twice. 8 



1 Where the people crowd. 

2 Suk. szb. Rashi ad loc. explains that the Tempter is designated man's 
servant, since he can master him if he wishes, as it is written, But thou 
may est rule over it (Gen. iv, 7). 

3 E.V. ' The mind stayed on Thee Thou keepest {in perfect peace)' . 

4 In the first passage tizzor is derived from zarar, to fight against; now 
it is derived from yazar> to form, create. 

5 E.V. 'Because it trusteth in thee.* 

e Perhaps this means : even your evil inclinations may be turned to good 
purpose; cf. supra, p. 68, n. 2. 

7 He appears to connect samuk (tied) with simmah (rnottf), to gladden. 

8 Intimating that he effects peace in this world and in the next. 

186 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. 7-8 

7. And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother, 
etc. (iv, 8). About what did they quarrel? 1 'Come,' said 
they, 'let us divide the world/ One took the land and the 
other the movables. The former said, ' The land you stand 
on is mine,' while the latter retorted, ' What you are wearing 
is mine/ One said: 'Strip'; the other retorted: 'Fly [off 
the ground]/ Out of this quarrel, Cain rose up 
against his brother Abel, etc. R. Joshua of Siknin 
said in R. Levi's name: Both took land and both took 
movables, but about what did they quarrel? One said, 
'The Temple must be built in my area/ while the other 
claimed, ' It must be built in mine/ For thus it is written, 
And it came to pass, when they were in the 
field: now field refers to nought but the Temple, 
as you read, Zion [i.e. the Temple] shall be plowed as afield 
(Micah in, 12). 2 Out of this argument, Cain rose 
up against his brother Abel, etc. Judah b. Rabbi 
said : Their quarrel was about the first Eve. 3 Said R. Aibu : 
The first Eve had returned to dust. Then about what was 
their quarrel? Said R. Huna: An additional twin was born 
with Abel, 4 and each claimed her. The one claimed: 'I will 
have her, because I am the firstborn , ; while the other 
maintained: 'I must have her, because she was born 
with me/ 

8. And Cain rose up against his brother 
Abel, etc. R. Johanan said: Abel was stronger than 
Cain, for the expression rose up can only imply that 
he [Cain] lay beneath him. 5 He [Cain] said to him, 'We 
two only are in the world: what will you go and tell our 
father [if you kill me]?* At this he was filled with pity 
for him; straightway he rose against him and slew him. 
Out of that incident was born the proverb, 'Do not do 
good to an evil man, then evil will not befall you/ 

1 The Midrash assumes that spoke means that they had a legal 
argument. 2 Cf. Pes. 88<a. 

3 V. supra, xviii, 4. Th., however, thinks it unlikely that the reference is 
to the Eve mentioned there, but thinks that in the Midrashic view there 
was yet another. 4 V. supra, 2. 5 They had already quarrelled 

and Abel had thrown Cain down. 

187 



XXII. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

With what did he kill him? R. Simeon said: He killed 
him with a staff: And a young man for my bruising (Gen. iv, 
23) implies a weapon which inflicts a bruise. The Rabbis 
said : He killed him with a stone : For I have slain a man 
for wounding me (ib,) indicates a weapon which inflicts 
wounds. R. 'Azariah and R. Jonathan in R. Isaac's name 
said: Cain had closely observed where his father slew 
the bullock [which he sacrificed, as it is written], And 
it shall please the Lord better than a bullock (Ps. lxix, 
32), and there he killed him: by the throat and its 
organs. 1 

9. R. Joshua said in R. Levi's name: It is written, The 
wicked have drawn out their sword (Ps. xxxvil, 14) — this 
refers to Cain ; To cast down the poor and needy (ib.) refers 
to Abel; Their sword shall enter into their own hearts (ib, 
15), as it is written, A fugitive and a wanderer shall thou 
be in the earth (Gen. iv, 12). 

And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is 
Abel, etc. (iv, 9). This may be compared to a prefect 
who was walking in the middle of the road, and found a 
man slain and another standing over him. 'Who killed 
him?' he demanded. 'I will ask you [that question] 
instead of your asking me/ rejoined the other. 'You have 
answered nothing/ he retorted. 2 Again, it is like the case of 
a man who entered a garden, and gathered mulberries 
and ate them. The owner of the garden pursued him, 
demanding, 'What are you holding?' 'Nothing/ was the 
reply. ' But surely your hands are stained [with the juice] ! ' 
Similarly, [God said to Cain], The voice of thy 
brother's blood crieth unto Me from the 
ground. Again, it is as if a man entered a pasture ground, 
seized a goat, and slung it behind him. The owner of the 
pasture pursued him, demanding, 'What have you in your 
hand?' — 'Nothing/ 'But it is bleating at your back!' 
exclaimed he. Similarly, [God rebuked Cain]; The 



1 I.e. the gullet and the windpipe; cf. Sanh. 376. 

2 Seeing that it is you who are standing over him. 

188 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. 9-IO 

VOICE OF THY BROTHER'S BLOOD CRIETH UNTO Me 
FROM THE GROUND. 1 

R. Judan, R. Huna, and the Rabbis each commented. 
R. Judan said: It is not written, 'Thy brother's blood' 
(dam — singular), but ' Thy brother' s Moods ' (deme — plural): 
i.e. his blood and the blood of his descendants. 2 R. Huna 
observed : It is not written, ' Surely I have seen yesterday 
the blood (dam) of Naboth, and the blood (dam) of his 
sons,' but, 'Surely I have seen yesterday the bloods (deme) 
of Naboth, and the bloods (deme) of his sons ' (11 Kings ix, 
26), which means, his blood and the blood of his 
descendants. The Rabbis said: It is not written, 'His own 
servants conspired against him for the blood (dam) of the 
sons of Jehoiada/ but, . . . ( For the bloods of (deme) the 
sons of Johoiada* (11 Chron. xxiv, 25), namely, his blood 
and the blood of his descendants. 

R. Simeon b. Yohai said: It is difficult to say this thing, 
and the mouth cannot utter it plainly. 3 Think of two athletes 
wrestling before the king; had the king wished, he could 
have separated them. But he did not so desire, and one 
overcame the other and killed him, he [the victim] crying 
out [before he died], 'Let my cause be pleaded before the 
king!' 4 Even so, The voice of thy brother's 

BLOOD CRIES OUT AGAINST M E . 5 

It [the blood] could not ascend above, because the soul 
had not yet ascended thither ; nor could it go below, because 
no man had yet been buried there; hence the blood lay 
spattered on the trees and the stones. 6 

10. And now cursed art thou (iv, ii). R. 
Simeon b. Gamaliel said: In three places Scripture was 

1 Mah.: these three similes each illustrate something different. The first 
illustrates the futility of Cain's countering God's question with another; 
the second, Cain's bloody state; the third, the cry of blood. 

2 Not only he, but all his potential descendants cry out before Me. 
8 I.e. the verse condemns God Himself I 

4 I blame him for not sparing me. 

5 Reading 'alay (*>y) for elay (^k) 'From the ground* . 

6 Hence, From the ground. Cf. Sanh. iv, 5, where this is 
deduced from 'bloods', which intimates that the blood was not in one place. 

189 



XXII. IO-Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

unduly sparing of its words: And now cursed art 
thou 1 ; But if the Lord make a new thing (Num. xvi, 30) 2 ; 
For I have opened my mouth unto the Lord (Judg. xi, 35). 3 

When thou tillest the ground, it shall 
not henceforth yield unto thee her strength 
(iv, 12). R. Eleazar said: To thee it shall not yield [her 
strength], but to another it shall yield it. R. Jose b. R. 
IJanina maintained: Neither to thee nor to another. 
Similarly you read : Thou shalt carry much seed out into the 
field, and shalt gather little in (Deut. xxvin, 38). R. Judah 
said : That means that a person will sow a se'ah and gather 
in a se'ah. Said R. Nehemiah: If so, how will he live? 
Rather, the field that ought to yield twenty measures 
will yield ten, and what ought to yield ten will yield five. 

When thou tillest the ground, it shall not 
henceforth yield unto thee her strength. her 
strength it shall not yield unto thee ; thy strength, however, 
it shall yield unto thee. 4 

11. And Cain said unto the Lord: My sin 

[E.V. 'PUNISHMENT'] IS TOO GREAT TO BEAR (iV, 

14). Thou bearest the heavenly and the earthly, yet Thou 
canst not bear my transgression! 5 

[Another interpretation]: My sin is greater than my 
father's. My father violated a light precept and was expelled 
from the Garden of Eden; this is a grave crime, to wit, 
murder ; how much greater then is my sin ! 

Behold, Thou hast driven out, etc. Yesterday 
Thou Drovest out my father and now Thou 
drivest me out. 6 With monotony hast Thou fashioned 
the world 7 : how so? — Behold, Thou hast driven 

1 Without stating the manner or incidence of the curse. 

2 Without adding: by creating a mouth for the earth. 

3 The nature of the vow not being stated here. 

4 Man will still enjoy the fruit of his toil, though had he not sinned toil 
would have been unnecessary. 5 Interpreting the verse as a question 
and a protest. Cf. Sanh. 101b; Deut. R. vm, 1. 

6 This interprets the past tense, hast driven out, which is made to refer 
to Adam. The verse is rendered : Behold, Thou hast driven out (my father, 
and Thou drivest out) me to-day ('me* follows 'driven out* in the 
Hebrew). 7 Text as emended ; v. Th. 

190 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXII. II-13 

me out this day — is it possible that From thy 
face i shall be hid? 1 

12. And the Lord said unto him: Therefore 

(LAKEN) WHOSOEVER SLAYETH CAIN, etc. (iV, 15). 

R. Judah said: The cattle, beasts, and birds assembled to 
demand justice for Abel. 2 Said the Holy One, blessed be He, 
to him, 'I say to thee (lak ani), Whosoever slayeth 
Cain/ etc. 3 R. Nehemiah interpreted: Cain's judgment 
shall not be as the judgment of other murderers. Cain 
slew, but had none from whom to learn [the enormity of 
his crime], but henceforth, All who slay shall be slain. 4 

And the Lord set a sign for Cain. R. Judah 
said : He caused the orb of the sun to shine on his account. 
Said R. Nehemiah to him : For that wretch He would cause 
the orb of the sun to shine ! Rather, He caused leprosy to 
break out on him, as you read, And it shall come to pass, if 
they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the 
first sign, etc. (Ex. iv, 8). 5 Rab said: He gave him a dog. 
Abba Jose said : He made a horn grow out of him. Rab said : 
He made him an example to murderers. R. Hanin said: 
He made him an example to penitents. 6 R. Levi said in the 
name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: He suspended his judgment 
until the Flood came and swept him away, as it is written, 
And He blotted out every living substance, etc. (Gen. vii, 23). 7 

13. And Cain went out, etc. Whence did he go 
out ? 8 R. Aibu said : It means that he threw the words behind 



1 Surely not. — Thou hast but one, unvarying form of punishment, inflict- 
ing the same upon my father and myself. 

3 R. Judah explains that Cain's fear was due to the animals, seeing that 
there were no men on earth. 3 Reading ' taken', lak am, 'To thee I 

(say)/ He thus assured him that he need have no fear of the animals. 

* He reads 'taken' as lo ken, 'not so,' this being God's answer to the 
animals, not to Cain. 6 The reference is to leprosy, v. 6. 

• Translating: And the Lord made Cain (direct object) a sign (to 
others) — according to Rab, of the fear that haunts a murderer, so that he 
needed a dog to protect him ; according to R. Hfonan, of the saving power 
of repentance, which Cain displayed, so that God did not put him to 
death immediately. 7 Infra, xxxn, 5; Eccl. R. vi, 3. 

8 For one cannot go out from the presence of God, who is everywhere. 

191 



XXII. 13] MIDRASH KABBAH 

him and went out, like one who would deceive the Almighty. 1 
R. Berekiah said in R. Eleazar's name: He went forth like 
one who shows the cloven hoof, 2 like one who deceives 
his Creator. R. Hanina b. Isaac said: He went forth 
rejoicing, as you read, He goeth forth to meet thee, and when 
he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart (Ex. iv, 14). Adam 
met him and asked him, 'How did your case go?' 'I 
repented and am reconciled/ replied he. Thereupon Adam 
began beating his face, crying, 'So great is the power of 
repentance, and I did not know!' Forthwith he arose 
and exclaimed, A Psalm, a song for the Sabbath day : It is 
a good thing to make confession unto the Lord (Ps. xcn, i). 3 

1 He rejected God's reproof, as though murder was a light matter. 

2 I.e. a hypocrite. — A swine shows his cloven hoof as though pretending 
to be clean. 

8 E.V. 'to give thanks*. 



192 



[XXIII. 1-2 

Chapter XXIII (BERESHITH) 

i. And Cain knew his wife, etc. (iv, 17). It is 
vritten, Their inward thought (kirbam) is, that their houses 
hall continue for ever, etc. (Ps. xlix, 12). 1 R. Judan and 
it. Phinehas discussed this. R. Judan explained it: What do 
-he wicked think? That within their houses [they shall live] 
c or ever, 2 and their dwelling-places [shall exist] to all genera- 
tions, and they will call their lands after their own names, 
.e. Tiberias after the name Tiberius, Alexandria after 
Alexander, Antioch after Antiochus? R. Phinehas inter- 
preted it : ' Kirbam is their houses for ever, 'i.e. to-morrow 
:heir houses become their sepulchres (kibram) 3 ; 'Their 
Iwelling-places to all generations, 1 i.e. they will neither live 
I.e. be resurrected] nor be judged. 4 Moreover, 'They 
have called their lands after their own names': thus it is 
written, And he builded a city, and called the 
stame of the city after the name of his son 
Enoch. 5 

2. And unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad 
begot Mehujael; and Mehujael begot 
Methushael; and Methushael begot Lamech 
(iv, 18). R. Joshua b. Levi said: All these names signify 
chastening. Irad: I shall drive them Jordan) out of the 
world [by the flood] ; Mehujael: I shall wipe them 
[mohan) from the world ; Methushael: I shall 
wear them out (matishan) from the world: what have I to 
do with Lamech and his descendants? 6 

And Lamech took unto him two wives, etc. 



1 This verse and its interpretation are a comment on the end of the verse 
with which the section commences. 

2 That is his translation of the verse. 

8 He refers this to the generation of the Flood. — The flood will sweep 

them away in their houses, which will thus become their graves. 

4 They will remain in their grave-houses for all time, and not rise for 

judgment; v. infra, xxvi, 6; Sanh. xi, 3, io$a. 

s These cities shall remain an everlasting memorial to their shame. 

6 Reading Lamech as mah U, what have I to do? 

193 o 



XXIII. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

(iv, 19). R. 'Azariah said in R. Judab/s name: The men of 
the generation of the Flood used to act thus: each took 
two wives, one for procreation and the other for sexual 
gratification. The former would stay like a widow through- 
out her life, while the latter was given to drink a potion of 
roots, so that she should not bear, and then she sat before 
him like a harlot, as it is written, He devoureth the barren 
that beareth not, and doeth not good to the widow (Job xxiv, 
21). The proof of this is that the best of them, who was 
Lamech, took two wives, Adah, [so called] because he 
kept her away (ya'ade) from himself; and Zillah, to sit 
in his shadow (zillo). 1 

3. And Adah bore Jabal; he was the father 
of such as dwell in tents and have cattle — 
u-mikneh (iv, 20). Formerly they used to provoke the 
Holy One, blessed be He, in secret, but subsequently they 
provoked Him openly, as it is written, The image of jealousy, 
which provoketh to jealousy — hamakneh (Ezek. vm, 3). 2 

And his brother's name was Jubal; he was 

THE FATHER OF ALL SUCH AS HANDLE THE HARP 

and the pipe (iv, 2i): i.e. organ players and flautists. 
And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, the 
forger of every cutting instrument of brass 
and iron, etc. (iv, 22). R. Joshua said in R. Levi's 
name: This man perfected {tibbel) Cain's sin: Cain slew, 
yet lacked the weapons for slaying, whereas he was The 

FORGER OF EVERY CUTTING INSTRUMENT, etc. 3 

And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. 
R. Abba b. Kahana said: Naamah was Noah's wife; and 
why was she called Naamah? Because her deeds were 
pleasing (ne'imim). The Rabbis said: Naamah was a 
woman of a different stamp, for the name denotes that she 
sang (man'emeth) to the timbrel in honour of idolatry. 

1 I.e. for sexual purposes only. 

2 Ha-mifrneh (E.V. 'cattle') is connected here with ha~mal$neh t that 

angereth, thus : ... of such as provoke God in their tents, i.e. secretly. 

Cf. Lam. R. Proem xxn. 

8 This interprets Tubal-Cain: he perfected (tibbel) Cain's work. 

194 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) * [XXIII. 4-5 

4. And Lamech said unto his wives, etc. (iv, 
23 ff). R. Jose b. R. JJanina said: He summoned them to 
their marital duties. Said they to him: 'To-morrow a flood 
will come — are we to bear children for a curse?' He 
answered, 'For have I slain a man for my 
wounding — that wounds should come to me on his 
account ! And a young man child for my 
bruising — that bruises should come upon me! 1 Cain 
slew, yet judgment was suspended for him for seven 
generations ; for me, who did not slay, surely judgment 
will wait seventy-seven generations!' 2 (Rabbi said: This 
is a reasoning of darkness [i.e. fallacious] : for if so, whence 
is the Holy One, blessed be He, to exact His bond of debt? 
R. Jacob b. Idi asked R. Johanan: If a man, why a child, 
if a child, why a man ? 3 He was a man in deeds and a child 
in years.) Said he [Lamech] to them [his wives] 4 : 'Come, 
let us go to Adam [and consult him]/ So they went to him. 
He said to them: 'Do you do your duty, while the Holy 
One, blessed be He, will do His/ 5 'Physician, physician, 
heal thine own limp ! ' retorted the other. ' Have you kept 
apart from Eve a hundred and thirty years for any reason 
but that you might not beget children by her!' 6 On hearing 
this, he [Adam] resumed his duty of begetting children, 
and forthwith, And Adam knew Ms wife again (Gen. 
IV, 25). 

5. [And Adam knew his wife furthermore.] 
Desire was added to his desire. 7 Formerly he had 
experienced no desire when he did not see her, but now he 
desired her whether he saw her or not. R. Abba b. Judan 
said in R. Aha's name: This is a hint to seafarers to 



1 According to this he had not slain anyone. Other legends, however, 
relate that he accidentally killed Cain, and he argued that his punishment 
would be deferred for a greater time than that of Cain, who intentionally 
murdered Abel. 2 To their objection that a Flood was imminent he 

replied that it would certainly be postponed for many generations. 
8 Why does Lamech designate the same person both a man and a child ? 
4 This is a continuation of the discussion, which was parenthetically 
interrupted. 5 Your duty is to procreate, whatever God may do. 
• Supra, xx, 1 1 . 7 This interprets ' od (E .V. ' again ') in the sense of more. 

I 9 S 



XXIII. 5~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

remember their homes [i.e. their wives] and repair thither 
immediately. 1 
And she called his name Seth: For God 

HATH APPOINTED ME ANOTHER SEED, etc. R. 

Tanhuma said in the name of Samuel Kozith 2 : [She hinted 
at] that seed which would arise from another source, 3 viz. 
the king Messiah. 

Instead of Abel, for Cain slew him. Through 
the sin against Abel, Cain was slain. 4 It was as if two trees 
were standing near each other, and a wind uprooted one 
of them, which fell upon the other and uprooted it too. 
Similarly, you read, Instead of Abel, for he 
slew Cain. 

6. And to Seth, to him also there was born 
a son; and he called his name Enosh (iv, 26). 
Abba Cohen Bardela was asked: '[Why does Scripture 
enumerate] Adam, Seth, Enosh, and then become silent?' 5 
'Hitherto they were created in the likeness and image [of 
God],' he replied, 'but from then onward Centaurs were 
created/ 6 

Four things changed in the days of Enosh : The moun- 
tains became [barren] rocks, the dead began to feel [the 
worms], 7 men's faces became ape-like, and they became 
vulnerable to demons. Said R. Isaac: They were themselves 
responsible for becoming vulnerable {hullin) to demons, 
[for they argued]: What is the difference whether one 

1 When they return from the voyage. 2 The meaning of the word is 

doubtful; *Ar. treats it as a surname, and it is so translated here. 

8 I.e. not from a Jewish stock, Messiah being descended from Ruth 

the Moabitess; v. infra, Li, 8. 

* Reading nnn as passive : for Cain was slain ; or, for he slew Cain 

(active, as vocalised)-— indirectly, since Cain eventually died on his 

account. 

5 Instead of continuing the genealogical record, the narrative is 
interrupted and recommences afresh with, This is the book of the generations 
of man (Gen. v, 1). 

6 Half man half beast — probably in a metaphorical sense, implying that 
the following generations were spiritually inferior, though an actual 
change of appearance, too, is meant. 

7 Their dead bodies putrefied (which had not been the case before) and 
so became the prey of worms. 

196 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XXIIL 6-7 

prostrates himself before an image or prostrates himself 
before man? Hence, Then man became degraded 1 to call 
upon the name of the Lord, 2 

7. R. Simon said : In three places this term is used in the 
sense of rebellion [against God] : Then they rebelled (huhal) 
to call upon the name of the Lord 3 ; And it came to pass, when 
man rebelled (hehel, E.V. 'began') in multiplying on the 
face of the earth (Gen. vi, 1); He [Nimrod] rebelled (hehel, 
E.V. 'began 3 ) when he was a mighty one in the earth (ib. x, 
8). An objection was raised: but it is written, And this is 
what they have rebelled (hahilam, E.V. 'began') to do (ib. 
xi, 6) ? 4 He replied : [God] smote Nimrod's head, ex- 
claiming, ' It is he who has incited them to rebel ! ' 5 

R. Levi said: This may be compared to a woman who 
said to her husband, 'I saw you in a dream divorcing me.' 
Said he to her, 'Why only in a dream? here it is in actual 
fact.' 6 R. Aha said: Ye engaged in idolatry and gave your- 
selves [Divine] names 7 ; therefore I too will summon the 
waters of the sea in My name and destroy those evil men 
from the world. R. Abbahu lectured: The Ocean [sc. 
the Mediterranean] is higher than the whole world. Said 
R. Eleazar b. Menahem to him: Is this not explicitly stated 
in a verse, He calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth 
them out upon the face of the earth (Amos v, 8 ; ix, 6), which 
obviously means, like one who pours downward from 
above? 

1 Huhal being derived from hullin, profane matter, and as such, the victims 
of demons. E.V. 'began'. 2 They became degraded in their worship, 

adoring men and idols instead of the Lord. — Infra, xxrv, 6. 
3 They called their idols ' Lord *, thus rebelling against His sovereignty, 
The verse is apparently translated: then they rebelled by calling (their 
idols) by the name of the Lord; or, then they rebelled against calling 
upon the name of the Lord. 

* Hence four should have been stated. 

6 Translating the last sentence, This man (v. Nimrod) has incited them 
to revolt. Hence it is not an additional instance. — Infra, xxvi, 4. 

* He derives hahilam from halom, a dream, and translates : And this 
against which they dream, viz. the possibility of being scattered, will 
become an actuality, and they will be scattered. 

7 Names indicating that you yourselves are gods. He translates : Then they 
rebelled by calling themselves by the name of the Lord (M.K. and Mah.). 

197 



XXIII. 7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

'He calleth for the waters of the sea is written twice, 
corresponding to the two times that the sea came up and 
inundated the world. 1 How far did it come up on the first 
occasion and how far on the second? R. Judan, R. Abbahu, 
and R. Eleazar in R. rlanina's name said : On the first it 
came up as far as Acco and Jaffa, while on the second it 
came up as far as the coasts of Barbary. 2 R. Huna and 
R. Aha in R. rjanina's name said : On the first, as far as the 
coasts of Barbary ; on the second, as far as Acco and Jaffa, 
as it is written, And said: Thus far ('ad poh) shalt thou come, 
but no further, etc. (Job xxxviii, n): ' Thus far ('ad poh) 
shalt thou come ' means as far as Acco : And here shall thy 
proud waves be stayed (u-foh yashith) intimates as far as 
Jaffa (YaffaK). R. Eleazar 3 said: At the first, as far as 
Calabria 4 ; at the second, as far as the coasts of Barbary. 

1 V. supra, v, 6. 

2 This name is sometimes applied to Africa in general ; sometimes to 
Azaria (Barbary) in N. Africa. 

3 Var. lee. R. Eleazar b. R. Jose. 

* The 'heel of Italy', lying in the S.E. of that country. 



I98 



[XXIV. i-2 

Chapter XXIV (BERESHITH) 

i. This is the book of the generations of 
Adam (v, i): It is written, Woe unto them that seek deep 
to hide their counsel from the Lord, etc. (Isa. xxix, 15). 
R. Levi said: This may be compared to a master builder 
who built a country with [secret] chambers, canals, and 
caves. Subsequently he became a tax-collector, and the 
inhabitants of the country hid from him in those chambers 
and caves. Said he to them, 'It is I who built all these 
chambers and caves; to what purpose then is your hiding?' 
Similarly, ' Woe unto them that seek deep!" . . . And their 
works are in the darkness, etc. (ib.). O your perversity! 
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay (ib. 16)? You liken 
the created object to its creator, the plant to its planter! 
That the thing made should say of him that made it : He made 
me not, etc. (ib.). Is it not yet a very little while, 1 and 
Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field (ib. 17) — i.e. 
into a royal palace ; And the fruitful field shall be esteemed 
as a forest — i.e. as forests of men. 2 And in that day shall 
the deaf hear the words of a book (ib. 18), viz. the book of the 
generations of Adam ; hence it is written, This is 

THE BOOK OF THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM. 3 

2. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance, and in 
Thy book they were all written (Ps. cxxxix, 16). R. Joshua 
b. R. Nehemiah and R. Judah b. R. Simon in R. Eleazar's 
name said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, created 
Adam, He created him extending over the whole world. 
How do we know that he extended from east to west? 
Because it is said, Thou hast formed me behind and before 
(ib. 5). From north to south? Because it is said, And from 
the one end o-f heaven unto the other (Deut. iv, 32). And how 
do we know that he filled the hollow spaces of the world? 
From the verse, And hast laid Thy hand upon me (Ps. he. 
aY.). 4 R. Tanhuma in R. Banayah's name, and R. Berekiah 

1 If you repent. 2 So great shall be the multitude of men. 
3 Num. R. kkxxix, 1 ; Deut. R. 1, 3. 4 V. supra, vm, 1. 

199 



XXIV. 2-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

in R. Eleazar's name said : He created him a shapeless mass, 
and he lay stretching from one end of the world to the 
other; as it is written, ' Thine eyes did see my shapeless mass.' 
R. Judah b. R. Simon said: While Adam lay a shapeless 
mass before Him at whose decree the world came into 
existence, He showed him every generation and its Sages, 
every generation and its judges, scribes, interpreters, and 
leaders. Said He to him; 'Thine eyes did see unformed 
substance 1 : the unformed substance [viz. thy potential 
descendants] which thine eyes did see have already been 
written in the book of Adam': viz. This is the 

BOOK OF THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM. 2 

3. Bar Kappara commenced: Let them be blotted out of 
the book of the living, etc. (Ps. lxix, 29) : this means, from 
the book of the generations below [in this world] ; And not 
be written with the righteous (ib.): from the book of the 
generations above [in the next world]. Bar Kappara 
taught: Wherever the word ' lived ' occurs, it refers to a 
righteous person; e.g., Shelah lived (Gen. xi, 14), 
Arpachshad lived (ib. 12). Another interpretation of 'Let 
them be blotted out of the book of the living,' etc.: ' Of the 
book of the living ' means of the book of the generations 
of Adam, as it is written, This is the book of 

THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM. 

4. For I will not contend for ever (Isa. lvii, 16) — with 
Adam; Neither will I be always wroth (ib.) — with his 
descendants. For the windfaileth before Me (ib.): R. Huna 
said : When the wind goes out into the world, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, obstructs its passage by mountains and 
breaks its force on hills and commands it : Take heed to do 
no harm to [My] creatures. What is the proof? 'For the 
windfaileth (ya'atof) before Me.' What is the meaning of 
'ya'atof'} He weakens it, as you read, When my soul grew 

1 In the sense of Adam's potential descendants. Golmi is now translated 
not my unformed substance, but simply ' unformed substance ', the final 
*V being regarded as poetical, while the speaker is God. 

2 Sanh. 386; Ex. R. XL, 2, 3 ; Lev. R. xxvi, 7. 

200 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXIV. 4-5 

weak (behith'atef, fr. 'ataf) within me, I remembered the Lord 
(Jonah 11, 8). R. Huna said: Through three winds the 
world would have been rendered desolate, 1 because they 
went forth with unmeasured force; these are they: one 
in the days of Jonah, another in the days of Job, and the 
third in the days of Elijah. R. Judan said: [The wind in 
the days] of Jonah was directed against that ship only, 
for it says, But the Lord hurled a great wind into the sea . . . 
so that the ship was likely to be broken (ib. 1, 4). 2 That of 
Job was directed against his house only, for it says, And, 
behold, there came a great wind from across the wilderness, 
and smote the four corners of the house (Job I, 19). Hence of 
these [three] only that of Elijah was world-wide, for it 
says, And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong 
wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks 
(1 Kings xix, 11). 

R. Tanhum — others state this in the name of the 
Rabbis — said: The royal Messiah will not come until all 
the souls which [God] contemplated creating have been 
created. What is the proof? And the souls which I have made 
(Isa. lvii, 16), i.e. for the sake of the souls which I have 
made. 3 And the souls are those referred to in the book of 
Adam, viz. This is the book of the generations 
of Adam. 4 

5. Then did He see it, and declare it; He established it, yea, 
and searched it out (Job xxviii, 27). The Rabbis said: 
Every single statement which the Holy One, blessed be He, 
made to Moses, He said twice in His own mind and then 
once to Moses. What is the proof? ' Then did He see it, and 
declare it,' denotes once; 'He established it, yea, and searched 
it out' denotes once [again], and then 'And unto man He 
said' (ib. 28), which refers to Moses. R. Aha said: [He said 

1 But for God. 2 The ship, but not other ships. 

8 The verse is now translated : For the spirit (i.e. Messiah, cf . supra, 11, 4, 

where ruah — spirit — is likewise referred to Messiah) shall be detained 

before Me until the souls which I made have been created. 

* 'A.Z. 5a; Yeb. 62a. Th. assumes from these proems that an actual 

work, called the Book of Adam, is referred to; v. B.M. (Sonc. ed.), 

p. 493, n. 4. 

201 



XXIV. 5] . MIDRASH KABBAH 

it] four times [to Himself] : ' Then did He see it ' denotes 
once; 'And declare it,' once; 'He established it," once; 
' Yea, and searched it out,' once; and after that, 'And unto 
man He said, 3 by which Moses is meant. 

R. Judah said : It was fitting that the Torah should have 
been given through Adam. Whence does this follow? — 
This is the book of the generations of Adam. 
The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'He is the creation of 
My hands, and am I not to give it to him!' Subsequently, 
however, He said: 'I gave him six commandments, 1 
and he did not remain loyal to them; how then shall I 
give him six hundred and thirteen precepts, viz. two 
hundred and forty-eight positive precepts and three 
hundred and sixty-five negative precepts?' Hence it is 
written, And He said la-adam — I will not give it to Adam. 2 
But to whom will I give it? To his descendants: hence, 
This is the book of the generations of 
Adam. 3 

R. Jacob of Kefar Hanan said: It was fitting that the 
twelve tribes 4 should have sprung from Adam. What is 
the proof? — This (zeh) is the book of the 
generations of Adam, implying the numerical value 
of zeh. 5 The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'He is the 
creation of My hands, and am I not to give him [the 
privilege of begetting the twelve tribes]!' Subsequently 
He said: 'I gave him two sons, and one arose and slew 
the other; how then am I to give him twelve?' Hence, 
'And He said la-adam': not Adam: I will not give [them 
to him]. But to whom will I give them? To his sons: 
This (zeh) is the book of the generations of 
Adam; i.e. the numerical value of zeh, the zayin being 
seven, and the he being five, making twelve in all. 6 

1 V. supra, xvi, 6. 2 Reading it lo adorn, not Adam. 

3 The deduction is from Generations, reading : This book 
(sc. the Torah) belongs to the generations, i.e. the descendants of Adam, 
but not to Adam himself. 

4 Which descended from Jacob. 

5 Which is twelve. He interprets: Zeh, i.e. 12, should have been the 
generations (i.e. the descendants) of Adam. 

8 Interpreting: Zeh, 12, shall be given to his generations, but not to him. 

202 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XXIV. 6 

6. This is the book of the descendants of 
Adam. These were descendants, while the earlier ones 1 
were not descendants. What then were they? Divinities! 
[The answer is as] Abba Cohen Bardela was asked: [Why 
does Scripture enumerate] Adam, Seth, and Enosh, and 
then become silent ? To which he answered : Hitherto they 
were created in the likeness and image [of God], but from 
then onwards Centaurs were created. Four things changed 
in the days of Enosh: The mountains became [barren] 
rocks, the dead began to feel [the worms], men's faces 
became ape-like, and they became vulnerable (hullin) to 
demons. Said R. Isaac : They were themselves responsible 
for becoming vulnerable to demons, [for they argued] : 
What is the difference whether one worships an image or 
worships man? Hence, Then man became degraded to call 
upon the name of the Lord (Gen. iv, 26). 2 

Another interpretation : These are descendants, but the 
earlier ones were not [human] descendants. What then 
were they? Demons. For R. Simon said: Throughout 
the entire one hundred and thirty years during which 
Adam held aloof from Eve the male demons were made 
ardent by her and she bore, while the female demons were 
inflamed by Adam and they bore, as it is written, If he 
commit iniquity ', 2" will chasten him with the rod of men, and 
with the afflictions of the children of man — Adam (11 Sam. 
vii, 14), which means, the children of the first [primeval] 
man. (The reason for the view that house spirits are 
benevolent is because they dwell with him [man], while 
the opinion that they are harmful is based on the fact that 
they understand man's evil inclinations. He who maintains 
that the spirits of the field are benevolent does so because 
they do not grow up with him; while as for the view that 
they are harmful, the reason is because they do not com- 
prehend his evil inclinations.) 3 

These are the descendants of Adam, but the earlier ones 
were not descendants of Adam. Why ? Because they were 
destroyed by the flood, for R. Joshua b. Levi said : All these 

1 Viz. Cain and Abel and Cain's descendants. 

2 V. supra, xxni, 6. 3 V. supra, xx, 11. 

203 



XXIV. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

names signify chastening. Irad: I shall drive them Jordan) 
out of the world; Mehujael: I shall wipe them (mohan) 
from the world; Methushael: I shall wear them out 
(matishan) from the world; what have I to do with 
Lamech and his descendants ? x 

7. R. Tanhuma in R. Eleazar's name and R. Menahamah 
in Rab's name said: Adam taught them all forms of crafts- 
manship. What is the proof? And they are craftsmen from 
Adam (Isa. xliv, n), 2 i.e. from the first Adam. Rab said: 
Adam even taught the way of ruling parchment for the Scroll 
[sc. the Pentateuch] : This is the book and its ruling. 3 

In the day that God created man. This 
supports R. Leazar's teaching: Three miracles were 
performed on that day: on that very day they were created, 
they cohabited, and they produced offspring. 4 

Ben 'Azzai said: This is the book of the 
descendants of Adam is a great principle of the 
Torah. R. Akiba said : But thou shalt love thy neighbour as 
thyself (Lev. xix, 18) is even a greater principle. Hence 5 
you must not say, Since I have been put to shame, let my 
neighbour be put to shame. R. Tanhuma said: If you do 
so, know whom you put to shame, [for] In the likeness of 
God made He him. 6 

1 V. supra, xxiil, 2. 

2 E.V. 'And the craftsmen skilled above men' (me-adam, lit. 'from men'), 
the mem of me-adam being understood as a particle of comparison. Here 
it is interpreted to denote source, origin. 

3 Translating: This is the Book which his descendants learned to write 
from Adam. A Scroll of the Torah must be ruled before it is written ; 
This is the book implies that it was drawn up according to 
regulations. 4 Supra, xxn, 2. 

5 This refers back to Ben 'Azzai, not to R. Akiba; v. next note. 
* In the Sifra, J£edoshim iv, 12, the order is reversed. R. Akiba's view 
being stated first, viz., that But thou shalt love ... is a great principle, 
and then Ben 'Azzai maintains that This is the book, etc., is 
even a greater principle. For from R. Akiba's verse it might be said that 
when a man is put to shame he may retaliate, since he is not bidden 
to love his neighbour more than himself. Whereas this verse stresses the 
sanctity of man even then, for he was created in God's likeness, and an 
insult to man is an insult to God. — Both these principles flow from the 
universal fatherhood of God, which implies the brotherhood and unity 
of man. V. Th. ad he. 

204 



[XXV. i-2 

Chapter XXV (BERESHITH) 

i. And Enoch walked with God, and he was 
not; for God took him (v, 24). R. Hama b. R. 
Hoshaya said : [And he was not means] that he 
was not inscribed in the roll of the righteous but in the 
roll of the wicked. R. Aibu said: Enoch was a hypocrite, 
acting sometimes as a righteous, sometimes as a wicked 
man. Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'While 
he is righteous I will remove him/ 1 R. Aibu also said: 
He judged [i.e. condemned] him on New Year, 2 when he 
judges the whole world. 

Some sectarians 3 asked R. Abbahu: 'We do not find 
that Enoch died?' 'How so?' inquired he. '"Taking" 
is employed here, and also in connection with Elijah/ 4 
said they. 'If you stress the word "taking"/ he answered, 
'then "taking" is employed here, while in Ezekiel it is 
said, Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes,* 
etc. (Ezek. xxiv, 16). 5 R. Tanhuma observed: He answered 
them well. 

A matron asked R. Jose: 'We do not find death stated of 
Enoch?' Said he to her: 'If it said, And Enoch 
walked with God, and no more, I would agree 
with you. Since, however, it says, Andhewasnot, 
for God took him, it means that he was no more 
in the world, [having died,] For God took him.' 

z. And He called his name Noah, saying: 
This same shall comfort us (yenahamenu fr. 
nahem) in our work, etc. R. Johanan said: The 
name does not correspond to the interpretation [given to 
it], nor does the interpretation correspond to the name. 

1 Translating: While Enoch walked with God he was not, i.e. he died. 

2 The first of Tishri. * . 

3 Term generally used for Judeo-Christians, though by the time of 
R. Abbahu (third century CE.) the break between Judaism and 
Christianity was complete, and therefore it would apply here to Christians 
or heretics in general. 

* 11 Kings 11, 1. Hence just as there an assumption is meant, but not 
death, so here too. 5 There it definitely refers to death. 

205 



XXV. 2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

The text should either have stated, 'This same shall give 
us rest (yanihenu),' or, 'And he called his name Nahman, 
saying: This same ye-nahamenu' ; but does Noah corre- 
spond to ye-nahamenu P 1 The truth is that when the Holy 
One, blessed be He, created Adam, He gave him dominion 
over all things : the cow obeyed the ploughman, the furrow 
obeyed the ploughman. 2 But when he sinned, He made 
them rebel against him: the cow did not obey the plough- 
man, nor did the furrow obey the ploughman. But when 
Noah arose, they submitted: ease is mentioned here, 3 and 
ease is mentioned elsewhere, viz. That thine ox and thine 
ass may be at ease (Ex. xxm, 12) : just as the ease stated there 
means the ease of the ox, so the ease mentioned here 
implies the ease of the ox. 4 

Resh Lakish said: The name does not correspond to its 
interpretation nor does the interpretation correspond to 
the name. Scripture should have written either, * The same 
yanihenu [shall give us rest] 'or ... ' Nahman . . . the same 
ye-nahamenu [shall comfort us]/ The fact is that before 
Noah arose, the waters used to ascend and inundate them 
[the dead] in their graves. For it is twice stated, He calleth 
for the waters of the sea (Amos v, 8; ix, 6), 5 corresponding 
to the two times [daily] that the waters came up and 
inundated them in their graves, once in the morning and 
once in the evening, 6 as it is written, Like the slain that lie 
in the grave (Ps. lxxxviii, 6), i.e. even those who had died 
naturally 7 were like the slain. 8 But when Noah arose, they 
had rest; for 'resting' is mentioned here, and also else- 
where, viz. He entereth into peace, they rest in their beds 
(Isa. lvii, 2) : just as there the rest of the grave is meant, 
so here too the rest of the grave is meant. 

R. Leazar said: He was so named on account of his 
sacrifice, as it is written, And the Lord smelled the sweet 

1 Surely not. * Text as emended, also cur. edd. — I.e. nature, animate 

and inanimate, was readily responsive. 3 The name ' Noah ' connotes that. 
4 I.e. it was easy to direct the ox in his work. 5 Cf. supra, xxm, 7. 
• The general idea is that even in their graves the dead were not at rest. 

7 Shokebe, that lie, is understood to refer to such. 

8 Th. : like those who have died an unnatural death through drowning, 
and thus continue to be tossed about by the waves. 

206 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXV. 2-3 

(nihoah) savour (Gen. vm, 21). 1 R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: 
On account of the resting of the ark, as it is written, 
And the ark rested — wattanah (ib. 4). 

R. Johanan said : The planets did not function the entire 
twelve months [of the Flood]. 2 Said R. Jonathan to him: 
They did function, but their mark was imperceptible. 3 
R. Liezer said: They shall not cease (ib. 22) implies that 
they never ceased. 4 R. Joshua deduced: 'They shall not 
cease ' : hence it follows that they had ceased. 

3. Which cometh from the ground which 
the Lord hath cursed (v, 29). Famine visited the 
world ten times. Once in the days of Adam : Cursed is the 
ground for thy sake (Gen. in, 17); once in the days of 
Lamech -.Which cometh from the ground 
which the Lord hath cursed; once in the days 
of Abraham : And there was a famine in the land (ib. xii, 
10) ; once in the days of Isaac: And there was famine in the 
land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham 
(ib, xxvi, 1) ; once in the days of Jacob : For these two years 
hath the famine been in the land (ib. xlv, 6); once in the 
days when the judges judged: And it came to pass in the 
days when the judges judged, that there was a famine in the 
land (Ruth 1, 1); once in the days of Elijah: As the Lord, 
the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not 
be dew nor rain these years (1 Kings xvii, 1); once in the 
days of Elisha : And there was a great famine in Samaria 
(11 Kings vi, 25); one famine which travels about in the 
world ; and once in the Messianic future : Not a famine of 
bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the 
Lord (Amos vm, n). 5 R. Huna and R. Jeremiah in the 
name of R. Samuel and R. Isaac said : Its occurrence ought 
properly to have been not in the days of David but in the 

1 Noah is thus connected with nihoah. t Remaining stationary. 

8 The sun and moon did not provide the usual amount of illumination. 

* M.K. : he translates* the Heb. 'od . . . lo yishbothu, they have never 

yet ceased. 

5 This actually gives eleven. Hence the ten must be assumed not to 

include the last. M.K. emends and combines the last two: and one which 

will visit (lit. 'roll upon') the world in the future; cf. Ruth R. 1, 4. 

207 



XXV. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

days of Saul, but because Saul was a shoot of a sycamore- 
tree, 1 the Holy One, blessed be He, postponed it and 
brought it in the days of David. Shila sins and Johanah 
is punished! 2 — Said R. fjiyya: It is like the case of a glass- 
worker holding a basket full of goblets and cut glass, who 
when he wished to hang the basket up brought a nail, 
drove it [into the wall], suspended himself thereby, 3 
and then hung up his basket. For that reason all these 
[famines] came not in the days of lowly [weak] men but 
in the days of mighty men, who could withstand it. R. 
Berekiah applied to them the verse, He giveth power to the 
faint (Isa. XL, 29). R. Berekiah said in R. Helbo's name: 
There were two famines in the days of Abraham. 4 R. Huna 
said in R. Aha's name: There was one in the days of 
Lamech and one in the days of Abraham. The famine of 
Elijah's time was one of scarcity, one year yielding and 
one year not yielding. The famine in the days of Elisha 
was one of panic, 5 Until an ass's head was sold for fourscore 
pieces of silver, etc. (11 Kings vi, 25). As for the famine 
during the days of the judges, R. Huna said in R. Dosa's 
name: From the price of two se'ahs [of wheat per sela c ] 
it advanced to one se'ah [per sela']* and it was taught 7 : 
A man must not emigrate abroad 8 unless two se'ahs cost a 
sela\ 9 R. Simeon observed: That is only when it is 
altogether unobtainable, but if it is obtainable, even at 
a se'ah per sela\ one must not go abroad. 

1 An idiom, denoting barren of thought or merit, or something that is 
easily broken; opp. of 'a shoot of an olive tree' {infra), which means 
rich in understanding or merit, not easily broken. — Thus Saul, lacking 
merit, would have been broken by a famine. 2 If Saul deserved punish - 
ment, was it to be postponed for David ! s To test its weight. 

4 This was either a tradition or is deduced from the passage, Beside the 
first famine that was in the days of Abraham, whence it follows that there 
was also a second in his days, for if the contrast is merely with that in the 
time of Isaac, it should merely say, 'beside the famine,' etc. (Y.T.). 

5 There was food, but not enough to satisfy (Rashi, Th.). Jast. translates 
(on Ab. V, 8) : a famine in consequence of (war) trouble. 

6 Text as emended (T., following • amns in?, reading '3D instead 
of 3*d). The ordinary price was four se'ahs per sela* (Peah, vin, 7). 

7 B.B. 91a. 8 From Palestine. * This indicating famine. But in 
the present case it was even twice as dear. On this interpretation this 
statement is cited as proof; but v. Ruth R. i, 4. 

208 



[XXVI. i-2 
Chapter XXVI (BERESHITH) 

i. And Noah was five hundred years old; 
and Noah begot Shem, Ham, andJapheth (v, 
32). It is written, Happy is the man that hath not walked, 
etc. (Ps. I, 1): 'Happy is the man' refers to Noah: ' That 
hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, — R. Judah and 
R. Nehemiah differ on this. R. Judah said: It means 
through three generations, viz., of Enosh, the Flood, and 
the Separation [of tongues]. 1 R. Nehemiah said: During 
the generation of Enosh he was but a child. 2 According to 
R. Judah's view, [the verse is to be interpreted thus:] 
'In the counsel of the wicked' refers to the generation of 
Enosh ;Nor stood in the way of sinners, to that of the Flood; 
Nor sat in the seat of the scornful, to that of the Separation 
[of tongues]. But his delight was in the law of the Lord {ib. 2) 
alludes to the seven precepts which he was commanded. 3 
But in His law doth he meditate : he inferred one thing from 
another, arguing, Why did the Holy One, blessed be He, 
order more clean animals [to be saved] than unclean ones ? 
Surely because He desires that offerings should be made to 
Him of the former. 4 Forthwith, He took of every clean beast, 
etc. (Gen. vin, 20). And he shall be like a tree planted by 
streams of water {ib. 3) : the Lord planted him [i.e. saved] 
in the ark. That bringeth forth its fruit in its season : this 
alludes to Shem; And whose leaf doth not wither : to Ham; 
And in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper, to Japheth : 
thus it is written, And Noah begot Shem, Ham, 
and Japheth. 

2. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish 
in the courts of our God (Ps. xcii, 14). 'Planted in the house 
of the Lord' alludes to Noah, whom the Holy One, blessed 
be He, planted in the ark; ' They shall flourish in the courts 

1 Noah lived through these, yet did not imitate the evil ways of his 
contemporaries- a Hence Scripture cannot refer to this. 
3 Supra, xvi, 6. He was given an additional precept, viz. the injunction not 
to eat a limb torn from a living animal. * Infra, xxxrv, 9. 

209 P 



XXVI. 2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of the God,' as it is written, And Noah begot, 
etc.; They shall still bring forth fruit in old age {ib. 15) alludes 
to Noah. 1 They shall be full of sap and richness {ib.), as it is 
written, And Noah begot Shem, Ham, and 
Japheth. 

And Noah was five hundred years old, etc. 
(v, 32). R. Judan observed: All his contemporaries begot 
at a hundred or two hundred years, while he begot at five 
hundred years! The reason, however, is that the Holy 
One, blessed be He, said: 'If they [Noah's sons] are to be 
wicked, I do not desire them to perish in the flood 2 ; while 
if they will be righteous, am I to put him to the trouble of 
building many arks?' 3 Therefore the Lord stopped his 
fountain and he begot at five hundred years. R. Nehemiah 
said in the name of R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the 
Galilean: Even Japheth, who was the eldest, 4 was not at 
the time of the Flood a hundred years old so as to be liable 
to punishment. 5 

R. Hanina said : In the Messianic age there will be death 
among none save the children of Noah. 6 R. Joshua b. Levi 
said: Neither among Israel nor among the other nations, 
for it is written, And the Lord God will wipe away tears 
from off all faces (Isa. xxv, 8). How does R. IJanina explain 
this? — From off all faces of Israel. Yet surely it is written, 
For the youngest shall die a hundred years old {ib. lxv, 20), 
which supports R. Ilanina ; how then does R. Joshua explain 
it? — That means that he will then be liable to punishment. 7 
But it is written, Like sheep they are appointed for the 
nether-world ; death shall be their shepherd (Ps. xlix, 15), 
which supports R. Hanina: how then does R. Joshua 
explain it? — Thus: whereas in this world Pharaoh [was 



1 Who begot children when 500 years old; Gen. v, 32. 

2 For their father's sake. 3 Had he begotten children at the normal 
age, there would have been too many by the time of the Flood for one ark. 
* Though he always comes last; cf. infra> xxxvn, 7. 

6 It was a tradition that before the Revelation the Heavenly Court did 
not punish for sins committed before that age. 

6 A general term for non- Israelites. 

7 V. n. 5. Mah.: 'death' is thus used to indicate punishment, which in- 
deed redeems from death ; it is not meant literally. 

2IO 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVI. 2-4 

punished] in his time and Sisera in his time 1 ; in the 
Messianic era He will appoint the angel of death their [sc. 
Pharaoh and Sisera's] officer, 2 as it is written, And the 
upright shall have dominion over them in the morning, and 
their form shall be for the wearing away of the nether-world 
on account of His habitation (ib.) 3 : this teaches that Sheol 
[the nether-world] will be destroyed, yet their bodies will 
not be destroyed. 4 And why such severity? 'On account of 
His habitation^ i.e. because they stretched out their hands 
against His habitation [sc. the Temple], as it is written, 
/ have surely built Thee a house of habitation (i Kings 
viii, 13). 5 

3. Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Surely Japheth was 
the eldest ? [Shem, however, is written] first because he was 
[more] righteous [than the others]; also, because he was 
born circumcised, the Holy One, blessed be He, set His 
name particularly upon him; [other reasons for his priority 
are that] Abraham was to arise from him, he was minister 
in the High Priesthood, and because the Temple would be 
built in his territory. 6 The son of Huta said: [Shem is 
written first] because the Holy One, blessed be He, 
suspended [punishment] for the generations from the Flood 
until the Separation according to the numerical value of 
his name, viz. three hundred and forty years. 7 

4. And it came to pass when man rebelled — 
E.V. 'began' (Gen. vi, i). R. Simon said: In three places 
this term is used in the sense of rebellion [against God] : 
Then they rebelled (huhal) to call upon the name of the Lord 
(ib. iv, 26); And it came to pass, when man 

1 Their punishment was but temporal, death ending it. 

2 So that their punishment will be eternal (continual). 

3 E.V. . . . 'For the nether-world to wear away, that there he no habitation 
for it.* 4 But they will be resurrected and their bodies continue to 
exist, so as to receive punishment. 

5 Cf. RJH. 17a. * V. Sanh. 696 for another explanation. 
7 jy~ 300; » = 40. Cf. Gen. xi, where it is said that the Separation 
occurred 338 years after Arpachshad's birth, which took place two 
years after the Flood. 

211 



XXVI. 4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

rebelled; ^ [NImrod] rebelled when he was a mighty one 
in the earth (ib. x, 8). An objection was raised: But it is 
written, And this is what they have rebelled to do (ib. xi, 6) ? 
He replied: [God] smote Nimrod's head, exclaiming, 'It is 
he who has incited them to rebel against Me ! n 

TO MULTIPLY ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. This 

teaches that they spilled their semen upon the trees and 
stones, and because they were steeped in lust the Holy 
One, blessed be He, gave them many women, as it is 
written, And it came to pass, when man began 
TO multiply . . . and daughters were born 

UNTO THEM. 

The wife of R. Simeon b. Rabbi gave birth to a daughter. 
When R. Hiyya the Elder met him he said to him: 'The 
Holy One, blessed be He, has begun to bless you/ 'What 
is the proof?' 2 inquired he. 'Because it is written, 
And it came to pass, when man began to 
multiply . . . and daughters were born unto 
them/ 3 he replied. When he [R. Simeon] went to his 
father he asked him, 'Did the Babylonian 4 congratulate 
you?' 'Yes/ he answered, 'and he said thus to me/ 'Never- 
theless/ he [Rabbi] observed, 'both wine and vinegar, are 
needed, yet wine is more needed than vinegar; both wheat 
and barley are needed, yet wheat is more needed than 
barley. When a man gives his daughter in marriage and 
incurs expense he says to her, "May you never return 
hither/" 6 

R. Gamaliel gave his daughter in marriage. 'Father/ 
she requested, 'pray for me/ 'May you never return 
hither/ said he to her. When she gave birth to a son she 
again begged him, 'Father, give me your blessing/ 'May 
"woe" never leave your mouth/ replied he. 'Father/ she 
exclaimed, 'on both occasions of my rejoicing you have 
cursed me!' 'Both were blessings/ he replied. 'Living at 

1 V. supra, xxiii, 7, for notes. * Tliat a daughter is a sign of a blessing. 

s Thus daughters are a sign of increase. 4 R.Hiyya ; v. Suk. 20*2 ; Ker. $a. 
8 But live happily with your husband. Thus a daughter is eventually lost 
to her family. — -This shows that the preference for sons was not based in 
any way on a lower opinion of women. — BJB. 16b. 

212 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVI. 4-5 

peace in your home, you will not return here, and as long 
as your son lives, "woe" will not leave your mouth; "woe 
that my son has not eaten/' "woe that he has not drunk/ * 
"woe that he has not gone to school/ 1 ' 

5. That the sons of God(bene elohim) saw 
the daughters of men, etc. (vi, 2). R. Simeon b. 
Yohai called them the sons of nobles; [furthermore], R. 
Simeon b. Yohai cursed all who called them the sons of 
God. 1 R. Simeon b. Yohai said: If demoralisation does not 
proceed from the leaders, it is not real demoralisation. 2 
R. 'Azariah said in R. Levi's name: When the priests 
steal their gods, by what can one swear or to what can one 
sacrifice ? 3 

Now why are they called the sons of God? R. Hanina 
and Resh Lakish said: Because they lived a long time 
without trouble or suffering. 4 R. Huna said in R. Jose's 
name: It was in order that men might understand 
[astronomical] cycles and calculations. 5 The Rabbis said: 
It was in order that they might receive their own punish- 
ment and that of the generations that followed them. 6 

That they were fair (toboth). R. Judan said: 
Actually toboth 1 is written : when a bride was made beautiful 
for her husband, the chief [of these nobles] entered and 
enjoyed her first. 8 Hence it is written, For they were fair, 
which refers to virgins ; And they took them wives, refers to 
married women. 9 Whomsoever they chose: that means 
males and beasts. 

R. Huna said in R. Joseph's name : The generation of the 
Flood were not blotted out from the world until they 

1 Lit. translation, v. Hertz, Pentateuch and Haftorahs (Sonc. Ed.), p. 18. 

2 Since the leaders are in a position to stop it. 

3 The idea is the same : what hope is there when the leaders and guardians 
of religion themselves transgress ? 4 As though they were divine. 

5 A long life was required for making the necessary observations. 

6 Through their long life of ease they were now fully liable for all the 
punishment their sins merited. 

7 Singular (nsits) instead of toboth (nmts), plural, though it is read as 
plural. The idea is that one woman was taken by many men. 

8 An allusion to the ius primae noctis. 

8 They took women married to others. 

213 



XXVI. 5~6] MIDRASH KABBAH 

composed nuptial songs 1 in honour of pederasty and 
bestiality. R. Simlai said: Wherever you find lust, an 
epidemic visits the world which slays both good and bad. 
R. 'Azariah and R. Judah b. R. Simon in R. Joshua's 
name said: The Holy One, blessed be He, is long-suffering 
for eve^ thing save immorality. What is the proof? 
The sons of men saw, etc., which is followed by, 
And the Lord said: I will blot out man (Gen. VI, 7). R. 
Joshua b. Levi said in Bar Padiah's name: The whole of 
that night Lot prayed for mercy for the Sodomites. They 
[the angels] would have heeded him, but as soon as they [the 
Sodomites] demanded, Bring them out unto us, that we may 
know them (ih. xix, 5)— for intercourse— they [the angels] 
said, 'Hast thou here any besides (ib. 12) ? Hitherto you may 
have pleaded in their defence, but you are no more per- 
mitted to do so.* 

6. And the Lord said: My spirit shall not 

ABIDE (YADON) IN MAN FOREVER — LE-'OLAM (VI, 3). 

R. Ishmael interpreted this: I will not put My spirit in 
them when I give the righteous their reward. 2 R. Jannai 
and Resh Lakish said : There is no other Gehenna [in the 
future] save a day which will burn up the wicked. What is 
the proof ?— - And the day that comeih shall set them ablaze 
(MaL in, 19). The Rabbis maintain: There will be a 
Gehenna, for it says, Whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace 
in Jerusalem (Isa. xxxi, 9). R. Judah b. R. Ilai said: There 
will be neither a day nor a Gehenna, but fire shall come 
forth from the body of the wicked himself and burn him 
up. What is the proof? Ye conceive chaff, ye shall bring 
forth stubble, your breath is a fire that shall devour you {ib. 
xxrai, 11). 3 R. Huna interpreted in R. Aha's name: When 
I restore the spirit to its sheath (nadan), I will not restore 

1 Or perhaps : until they wrote marriage deeds for males and beasts — 
i.e. they fully legalised such practices. 

% Ijc. they will not arise at the resurrection. The whole passage refers 
to the generation of the Flood; v. Sanh. x, 3; xoSa. Th. conjectures that 
R. Ishmael derives yadon from nadan, a dowry, translating: I will not 
dower man (sc. the wicked) with My spirit le-'olam (in the world — 
to come; E.V. 'forever'). 3 Supra, vi, 6. 

214 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XXVI. 6 

their spirit to their sheath. 1 R. IJiyya b. Abba interpreted: 
I will not fill them with My spirit when I fill all other 
men with My spirit, because in this world it [My spirit] 
spreads 2 only through one of [the main] limbs, but in the 
future it will spread throughout the body, as it is written, 
And I will put My spirit within you (Ezek. xxxvi, 27). R. 
Judan b. Bathyra interpreted it: Never (le-'olam) again will 
I judge (dan) man with this judgment. 3 R. Huna commented 
in R. Joseph's name : / will not again curse ... J will not 
again smite (Gen. viii, 21): [the repetition implies], let this 
suffice. The Rabbis said : *I will not again curse ' refers to the 
children of Noah; '/ will not again smite / to future 
generations. 4 

I intended that My spirit should judge [i.e. rule and 
guide] them, but they refused; behold, therefore, I will 
bend them 5 (meshaggeman) through suffering. I intended 
that My spirit should judge them, but they refused; behold, 
therefore, I will bend them [break their power] through 
each other, for R. Eleazar said: None becomes answerable 
for [injury done to] man save another man like himself. 6 
R. Nathan said: Even a dog or a wolf is answerable. 
R. Huna b. Gorion said : Even a staff or a thong is answer- 
able, as it is written, For the yoke of his burden . . . Thou 
hast broken as in the day of Midian (Isa. ix, 3). 7 R. Aha 
said: Even barren trees 8 will have to render an account. 
The Rabbis proved it from the following: For the tree of 
the field is man (Deut. xx, 19) 9 ; just as man must render 
an account, so must trees render an account. 



1 Deriving yadon from nadan, a sheath, the casing of the spirit, viz. 
the body. 2 Th. Jast.: flashes in (i.e. seizes). 

3 Sc. a Flood. He derives yadon from din, judgment. Thus in his view, 
even before the Flood God stated that it would never be repeated. 

4 Infra, xxxiv, 10. 

5 Jast. Th. translates differently. On all views this is a play on the word 
beskagam, E.V. f for that also'. Here too yadon is derived from dan, to 
judge, in the sense of guide. 

6 But an animal is not answerable when it injures man. He translates : 
My spirit will not judge, i.e. punish, for injury done to man, save when 
he too — who inflicts the injury — is man. 

7 The yoke itself was punished, as it were. 

8 I.e. non fruit-bearing. 9 E.V. * Is the tree of the field man?* 

215 



XXVI. 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

R. Joshua b. Nehemiah interpreted: Their spirit does 
not reason with itself that they are but flesh and blood 1 ; 
therefore I will reduce their years, as I have determined 2 
for them in this world, and then I will bend them through 
suffering. R. Aibu interpreted: What was the cause that 
they rebelled against Me? Was it not because I did not 
bend them through suffering? What keeps a door in 
position? Its hinges. 3 

R. Eleazar said: Wherever there is no judgment [below] 
there is judgment [above]. 4 R. Bibi, the son of R. Ammi, 
interpreted, following R. Leazar: If they have not judged, 
then My spirit [will judge man]. R. Meir said: If they did 
not perform judgment below, am I too not to perform 
judgment above! Thus it is written, Is not their tent-cord 
plucked up within them? They die, and that without wisdom 
(Job iv, 21): i.e. through lacking the wisdom of the Torah. 
Betwixt morning and evening they are shattered; they perish 
for ever without any regarding (mesim) it (ib. 20). Now 
'mesim* can only refer to judgment, as you read, Now 
these are the ordinances [judgments] which thou shalt set 
(tasim) before them (Ex. xxi, i). 5 

R. Jose the Galilean interpreted: No more shall My 
Attribute of Justice be suppressed [lit. 'judged'] before 
My Attribute of Mercy. 6 Rabbi interpreted: And the 
generation of the Flood said, 'The Lord will not judge my 
spirit/ 7 R. AMba cited: Wherefore doth the wicked condemn 

1 And so they should not sin. 

1 This is the reading in several MSS. and is the most preferable. Mah.: 
the long life they have hitherto enjoyed has blinded them to their 
mortality ; hence I will shorten it. Th.'s ed. reads : I will grant them but 
few years, because I have been wroth with them ; this involves the change 
of one letter only. * Similarly man needs suffering to place him 

on a firm foundation. Suffering brings out the best in man. 
4 If a man's sins are unpunished in this world, they will be punished in 
the next. s Infra, xxxi, 5 ; Deut. R. v, 5. Thus interpreting : They die, 
etc., because they did not execute justice on earth. 
• M.K.andMah. : Ruki (My spirit) connotes His mercy ; yadon, His justice. 
Hitherto the former had prevailed ; now the latter would come into its own. 
7 Instead of translating 'And the Lord said, My Spirit', etc., he treats 
'the Lord* as the subject of yadon (judge), the subject of 'said* being 
the people, unexpressed, and so renders: And the people said, The 
Lord wiH not judge my (sc. the people's) spirit — of rebellion. 

2l6 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVI. 6-7 

God, and say in his heart, Thou wilt not require? (Ps. x, 13) 
meaning that there is no judgment or judge; [in truth] 
there is judgment and there is a Judge. 

R. Hanina b. Papa said: Even Noah who was left of 
them was left not because he merited it, but because the 
Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that Moses was destined 
to descend from him, beshagam and Moshe (Moses) both 
having the same numerical value. 1 The Rabbis adduced it 
from the following: And his days shall be a hundred and 
twenty years. 2, 

7. The Nephilim were in the earth . . . the 
same were the Gibborim (E.V. 'mighty men') 
that were of old (vi, 4). They were called by seven 
names: Nephilim, Emim, Refaim, Gibborim, Zamzumim, 
Anakim, and Awim? Emim signifies that their dread 
(emah) fell upon all ; Refaim, that all who saw them melted 
(nirpeh) like wax. Gibborim : R. Abba said in R. Johanan's 
name : The marrow of each one's thigh bone was eighteen 
cubits long. 4 Zamzumim: R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: They 
were the greatest of all masters of the arts of war. 5 Anakim : 
The Rabbis explained it as signifying that they were loaded 
with chains {'anakim) upon chains. 6 R. Aha said: Their 
necks reached { ( onkim) the globe of the sun 7 and they 
demanded: 'Send us down rain/ Awim denotes that they 
cast the world into ruins, were themselves driven from the 
world in ruin, and caused the world to be ruined, as you 

1 Viz. 345 : wtM : n (2) +v (300) +3 (3) -f o (40) ; nro : o (40) -far (300) 
+n(5)=345. He renders: My spirit will abide in man (sc. Noah) 
only for the sake of Moses (beshagam). 

2 I.e. for the sake of him who is to live 120 years (Moses)* Cf. infra, 
xxvin, 9. 3 V. Deut. 11, 10 f, 20 f, 23. 

4 Gibborim denotes mighty, great. 

6 Th. holds that this does not actually explain the meaning of the word 
zamzumim, but is a comment on their might. Th. also conjectures that 
R. Jose connects zamzumim with zamam, to devise, intend, and it implies 
that owing to their superior military power they could always carry out 
their schemes. 

6 As ornaments. Jast. (reading d'otb) : they increased the chains 
(* anakim) around the necks ('anakdm) — they subjugated many people. 

7 Th. Jast.: they seized (fr. anak 'to press', 'force/ 'rule') the globe of 
the sun. 

217 



XXVI. 7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

read, A ruin, a ruin, a ruin ('awwah 'awwah 'awwah) will 
I make it (Ezek. xxx, 32). R. Leazar b. R. Simeon said: 
It signifies that they were as expert in the knowledge of 
different kinds of earth as a serpent, for in Galilee a 
serpent is called 'awwiah. Nefilim denotes that they hurled 
(hippilu) the world down, themselves fell (nqflu) from the 
world, and filled the world with abortions (nefilim) through 
their immorality. 1 

And also after that. Judah b. Rabbi com- 
mented: The later generations would not learn from the 
earlier ones, i.e. the generation of the Flood from that of 
Enosh, and the generation of the Separation from that of 
the Flood. 2 

And also after that, when the sons of God 
came in unto the daughters of men. r. 
Berekiah said: A woman would go out into the market 
place, see a young man, and conceive a passion for him, 
whereupon she would go, cohabit, and give birth to a 
young man like him. 

The men of renown (hashem). R. Aha quoted: 
They are the children of churls, yea, children of ignoble men — 
bell shem (Job xxx, 8), yet you say that they were men 
of renown! 3 But it means that they laid the world 
desolate (heshimu), were driven in desolation from the 
world, and caused the world to be made desolate. R. Levi 
explained in the name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: It means 
the men whose names are specified above, 4 for R, Joshua 
b. Levi said: All these names signify chastening: Irad: 
I shall drive them Jordan) out of the world; Mehujael: 
I shall wipe them (mohan) out of the world; Methushael : I 
shall wear them out (matishan) from the world: What 
have I to do with Lamech and his descendants? 5 R. 
Johanan interpreted: The same were the mighty 

MEN THAT WERE OF OLD, THE MEN OF NAME: and 



1 Num. R. xvi, 11 ; Deut. R. 1, 24; Yoma 10a; Shab. 85a. 

2 Infra, XXXVIII, 4. 

3 The verse of Job is understood to refer to this generation of the Flood. 

4 In the preceding chapter, but does not necessarily imply renown. 

5 Supra, xxiii, a. 

2l8 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XXVI. 7 

who enumerates their deeds? The men enumerated 
by name, 1 viz., Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the 
Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 2 For Rabbi said: 
Had Job come for no other purpose but to enumerate for 
us the deeds of the generation of the Flood, it would have 
sufficed him. 3 R. Hanan said: Had Elihu 4 come for no 
other purpose but to describe to us the action of the rain- 
fall, 5 it would have sufficed him. For R. Johanan said: 
Every time orah (light) is stated in connection with Elihu, 6 
it refers to the descent of rain. R. Hoshaya the Elder said : 
It refers to nought else but Revelation. 7 R. Aha said: 
Dissension is as great an evil as the generation of the Flood: 
It says here, Men of renown, whilst elsewhere 
it says, They were princes of the congregation, the elect men 
of the assembly, men of renown (Num. xvi, z). 9 

1 This is R. Johanan's rendering of the phrase. 

2 Many verses in Job describing the deeds of the wicked were held to 
refer to the generation of the Flood, as stated in the text. 

3 The meaning seems to be, that alone justifies the whole work. 

4 Mentioned several times in Job, e.g., xxxn, 4; xxxv, 1. 

5 How God caused the Flood; e.g., Job xxxvi, zy seq.; xxxvn, 3 seq. 

6 E.g., Job xxxvi, 30, 3Z; xxxvn, 3, 11. 

7 Since the Torah is called light, v. Prov. XV, 23, 

8 The reference is to Korah and his rebellion. 



219 



XXVII. i-2] 

Chapter XXVII (BERESHITH) 
i. And the Lord saw that the wickedness 

OF THE MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT 
EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS 
HEART WAS ONLY EVIL ALL DAY (VI, 5). It is 
written, For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, etc. 
(Eccl. 11, 21). R. Judan said: Great is the power of the 
prophets, who compare that which is created to its Creator, 
as it is written, And I heard the voice of a man between the 
banks of the Ulai, etc. (Dan. vin, 16). 1 R. Judan b. R. 
Simon 2 said : We have other verses which display this more 
clearly than this one: And upon the likeness of the throne 
was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above 
(Ezek. 1, 26) . 3 ' With wisdom,' as it is written, The Lord 
by wisdom founded the earth (Prov. ill, 19); 'And with 
knowledge" (Eccl. he. cit.), as it is written, By His know- 
ledge the depths were broken up (Prov. hi, 20). c And with 
skill* (Eccl. loc. cit.): R. Berekiah said in the name of R. 
Judah b. R. Simon : Not with labour or toil did the Holy 
One, blessed be He, create the world, but 'By the word of 
the Lord" (Ps. xxxiii, 6), and straightway, The heavens have 
been made (ib.).* Yet to a man that hath not laboured therein 
shall he leave it for his portion (Eccl. II, 21): that refers to 
the generation of the Flood. 5 This also is vanity and a great 
evil (ib.): thus it is written, And the Lord saw 

THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF THE MAN WAS GREAT. 

2. For all his days are pains, etc. (ib. 23) : it means that 
they grieved the Holy One, blessed be He, with their 
evil deeds; And his occupation vexation (ib.): they vexed 
the Holy One, blessed be He, with their evil deeds. Yea, 
even in the night his heart taketh no rest (ib.) — from sin. 

1 God was speaking, as is clear from the second half of the verse, yet He 

is referred to as a man's voice. 

1 Th.: this is not the R. Judan generally mentioned. 

* Man in this verse certainly refers to God. Hence in Eccl. n, 21, it 

likewise refers to God. * V. supra, xn, 10. 

5 These were permitted to enjoy the results of God's work. 

220 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVII. 2-4 

And how do we know that by day too [they did not cease 
from evil]? . . . was only evil all day. 

3. And the Lord saw that the wickedness 
of man was great. R. Hanina interpreted: It waxed 
ever greater. R. Berekiah said in R. Johanan's name: We 
know that the generation of the Flood was punished by 
water and the Sodomites by fire: whence do we know 
to apply what is stated here to the case below [sc. the 
Sodomites], and the reverse? Because 'great' is mentioned 
in both places, affording an analogy. 1 

Was only evil all day. From the rising until 
the setting of the sun there was no hope [of good] in them, 
as it is written, The murderer riseth with the light (Job xxiv, 
14). But it is written, In the dark they dig through houses 
(ib. 16) ? 2 — Why so? Because they make a sign for themselves 
[E.V. 'shut themselves up'] in the daytime (ib.). What did 
they do? They brought balsam, smeared it over a stone, 
and would come at night and dig through it. 3 On the very 
night after R. IJanina taught this in Sepphoris, three 
hundred house-breakings took place. 4 

4. And it repented (wayyinnahem) the Lord 
that He had made man on the earth (vi, 6). R. 
Judah said: [God declared:] f It was a regrettable error 
on My part to have created him out of earthly elements, 5 
for had I created him out of heavenly elements, he would 
not have rebelled against Me/ R. Nehemiah interpreted it: 

1 Heb. gezerah shawah. In reference to the Sodomites: Verily, the cry of 

Sodom and Gomorrah is great (Gen. xvm, 20). The analogy teaches that 

the punishment stated in the one case was also inflicted in the other. 

a Then why say Riseth with the light? 

3 I.e. they marked in the daytime the spot most favourable for breaking 

in, and so as not to forget it they sprayed perfume there. Thus they made 

preparations by day and carried out their designs at night. V. Sanh. 

109a for a different version. 

* The thieves took the hint. — Here follows in the original, ' What did the 

citizens of Sepphoris do there ' ? which is obviously only a fragment of 

a longer passage, and some MSS. omit it entirely. 

5 Or simply, below, on earth. Both stress, On the earth, this 

being the cause of God's regret. 

221 



XXVIL 4] M1DRASH RABBAH 

I am comforted (menuham) that I created him below, for 
had I created him above, he would have incited the celestial 
creatures to revolt, just as he has incited the terrestrial 
beings to revolt. R. Aibu interpreted: It was a regrettable 
error on My part to have created an evil urge (yezer ha-ra ( ) 
within him, for had I not created an evil urge within him, 
he would not have rebelled against Me. 1 R. Levi inter- 
preted: I am comforted that I made him from the earth. 2 

And it grieved Him at His heart. R. Berekiah 
said: If a king has a palace built by an architect and when 
he sees it, it displeases him, against whom is he to complain ? 
Surely against the architect! Similarly, It grieved 
Him at His heart. 3 

A certain Gentile asked R. Joshua b. Karhah: 'Do you 
not maintain that the Holy One, blessed be He, foresees 
the future?' 'Yes/ replied he. 'But it is written, And 
it grieved Him at His heart?' 4 'Has a son ever 
been born to you?' inquired he. 'Yes,' was the answer. 
'And what did you do?' — 'I rejoiced and made all others 
rejoice/ he answered. 'Yet did you not know that he would 
eventually die?' 'Gladness at the time of gladness, and 
mourning at the time of mourning,' replied he. 'Even so 
was it with the Holy One, blessed be He/ was his rejoinder, 
'for R, Joshua b. Levi said: Seven days the Holy One, 
blessed be He, mourned for His world before bringing the 
Flood, for it is said here, And it grieved Him, 
while elsewhere it says, The king grieveth for his son' 
(n Sam. xix, 3). 5 

1 Th.: possibly JR. Aibu translates the end of the verse thus: and it 
grieved Him for his (man's) heart, i.e. the desire to evil which the heart 

harbours. 

a The commentaries (with a slightly different reading) explain : that 1 

made him so as to remain in the earth, i.e. mortal and subject to burial. 

— Sanh. io8<2. 

3 Since God was His own Architect. Cf. supra, vm, 3. 

* Why then was He originally pleased with the creation ? 

s Seven days is the period of deep mourning for a near relation. Infra 

xxxii, 7. 



222 



[XXVIII. i-2 

Chapter XXVIII (BERESHITH) 

i. And the Lord said: I will blot out man 
whom I have created (vi, 7). It is written, There- 
fore He taketh knowledge of their works, and He iurneth 
[day] to night, 1 so that they are crushed (Job xxxiv, 25). R. 
Hanina asked R. Jonathan : What does ' Therefore He taketh 
knowledge of their works', etc. mean? — He answered: After 
the Holy One, blessed be He, has turned day into night 2 
and put them at their ease, to be ready for punishment, 3 
He then punishes them. Similarly, at first, The Lord saw 
that the wickedness of man was great; then, It repented the 
Lord, etc.; and finally, And the Lord said: I will 
blot out man. 

2. And the Lord said: I will blot out man. 
R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Abba b. Yema: It is 
written, Let the waters be gathered together (yikkawu) unto 
one place (Gen. I, 9) : that means, Let there be a measure 
set for the water, as you read, And a line (kaw) shall be 
stretched forth over Jerusalem (Zech. 1, 16). R. Abba b. 
Kahana explained it in R. Levi's name thus : Let the waters 
be gathered together for My purpose, [so as to perform 
what I will one day do with them]. It is as if a king built 
a palace and tenanted it with dumb people, who used to 
rise early and pay their respects to the king with gestures, 
with their fingers and with their handkerchiefs. Said the 
king: 'If these, who are dumb, rise early and pay their 
respects with gestures, how much more zealous would they 
be if they possessed all their faculties ! ' Thereupon the king 
tenanted it with men gifted with speech, who arose and 
seized the palace, asserting, 'This palace is ours.' 'Then let 

1 E.V. 'Overturneth them in the night \ 

* By restraining the planets from functioning, so that it is perpetually 

dark; cf. supra, xxv, 2: R. Johanan said: The planets did not function 

for twelve months. 

3 I.e. that it shall come upon them unawares. Var. lee. : and has prepared 

them for punishment. 

223 



XXVIII. 2-3] M1DRASH RABBAH 

the palace return to its original state/ the king ordered. 
Similarly, at the beginning the praise of the Almighty 
ascended from nought but the water, as it is written, From 
the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea 
(Ps. xciii, 4); and what did they proclaim? The Lord on 
high is mighty (#.)• Said the Holy One, blessed be He: 'If 
these, which have neither mouth nor speech, do thus, how 
much more will I be praised when I create man i ' But the 
generation of Enosh arose and rebelled against Him; the 
generation of the Flood and that of the Separation [of 
tongues] arose and rebelled against Him. Thereupon the 
Holy One, blessed be He, said : ' Let these be removed and 
the former come [in their place]/ Hence it is written, 
And the Lord said; I will blot out man. 1 

* What do they think ? That I need armies [to combat them] ? 
Did I not create the world with a word? 2 I will utter a 
word and destroy them!' R. Berekiah said: Surely I 
created them from the earth; what dissolves earth? Water. 
Then let the water come and dissolve the earth. 

3. R. Levi said in R. Johanan's name: Even the nether 
stone of a millstone was dissolved. 3 R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said: Even the dust of Adam 4 was dissolved. R. Judah 
lectured thus, but the congregation would not accept 
it. R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: 
Even the nut of the spinal column, from which the Holy 
One, blessed be He, will cause man to blossom forth in the 
future, 5 was dissolved. 6 

Hadrian — may his bones rot! 7 — asked R. Joshua b. 
Ilanania : ' From what part will the Holy One, blessed be 
He, cause man to blossom forth in the future ? ' ' From the 
nut of the spinal column, ' he replied. ' How do you know 
that?' he asked. 'Bring me one and I will prove it to you/ 
he replied. He threw it into the fire, yet it was not burnt ; 
he put it in water, but it did not dissolve; he ground it 

1 V. supra, v, 1. 2 Cf. supra, xxvn, 1. 

* 'Blot out* and 'dissolve* are the same word in Hebrew. 

* In his grave. 5 At the resurrection. 6 Infra, xxx, 8 ; Lev. R. xxxi, 10. 
7 V. p. 72, n. 2. 

224 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVIII. 3-4 

between millstones, but it was not crushed; he placed it 
on an anvil and smote it with a hammer; the anvil was 
cleft and the hammer split, yet it remained intact. 1 



4. I WILL BLOT OUT (EMHEH) MAN WHOM I 

have created. I can impose an interdict (me-maheh) 
upon My creatures, but My creatures cannot impose an 
interdict upon Me. 2 R. Eleazar said : This may be compared 
to a king who possessed mixed stores, 3 and his subjects 
criticised him, saying, 'The king is miserly/ 4 What did 
the king do? He opened up for them the best, and they 
filled the country with stench, so that they had to sweep it 
out and cast it into the fire. 5 Similarly, these were the best 
of them, yet only One man [sc. Noah] among a thousand 
(elef) have I found (Eccl. vn, 28), [elef being used in the 
same sense] as when we learned, Best quality (alfa) wine, 6 
and they have acted thus ; therefore I will blot 

OUT MAN, THE BEST (ASHER) THAT I HAVE CREATED. 

[God] contemplated creating a thousand generations, and 
how many of them were blotted out? 8 R. Huna said in the 
name of R. Eliezer, the son of R. Jose the Galilean : Nine 
hundred and seventy-four. What is the proof? — The word 
which he commanded after [E. V. 'to '] a thousand generations 



7 



1 Hence it will remain as the nucleus of the resurrected man. Lev. R. 
xviii, 1 ; Eccl. R. xii, 5. 

4 They may not criticise My actions, since there is much that is not 
revealed to them. — He derives 'emheh' from maha, to forbid. 

3 Stores of commodities, good and bad mixed together. But even the 
best was poor. 

* He is keeping all for himself. 

5 The worst would have been even more offensive and unbearable. 

• Men. ix, 6. Alfa (alpha) is the first letter of Hebrew and Greek alphabets, 
and therefore denotes best quality. He translates: one man only (sc. 
Noah) out of the best (generations) have I found. As stated infra, the 
generations until the Flood, twenty-six in all, were the best of the 
thousand generations which God had contemplated creating, yet even 
so, All flesh had corrupted their way. 

7 Connecting as her (E.V. 'whom') with ashar, to be strong, happy, 
whence by transference, to be the best; hence translating: I will blot 
out man (though he is of) the best that I have created, for the other 
generations which I had intended to create would have been worse. 

8 I.e. remained uncreated. 

225 Q 



XXVIII. 4~5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

(Ps. cv, 8), which refers to the Torah. 1 R. Levi said in the 
name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: Nine hundred and eighty. 
What is the proof?— 4 The word which he commanded after 
a thousand generations ' refers to circumcision. 2 

5. From the face of the earth. R. Abba b. 
Kahana said : The ten tribes 3 did what was not done even 
by the generation of the Flood. With reference to the 
generation of the Flood, it is written, And every imagination 
of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all day (Gen. VI, 5), 
whereas with reference to the ten tribes it is written, Woe 
to them that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds 
(Micah 11, 1), implying, at night. And how do we know 
that they did so by day too ? Because it is stated, When the 
morning is light, they execute it (ib.). Yet of those [the 
generation of the Flood] not a remnant was left, while of 
these a remnant was left. It was left only for the sake of the 
righteous men and women that were destined to arise from 
them, as it is written, And, behold, there shall he left a 
remnant therein that shall be brought forth, both sons and 
daughters (Ezek. xiv, 22) : meaning, for the sake of the 
righteous men and women that were to arise from them. 4 

R. Berekiah said: The tribes of Judah and Benjamin 
did what was not done even in Sodom. With reference to 
Sodom it is written, And, verily, their sin is exceeding 
grievous (Gen. xvm, 20), whereas of the tribes of Judah and 
Benjamin it says, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah 
is most exceeding great (Ezek. ix, 9) 5 ; yet of the latter not 
a remnant was left, while of the former a remnant was left. 
But the reason is : the latter, That was overthrown as in a 
moment (Lam. IV, 6), never stretched forth their hands to 

1 Interpreting: The Torah was to have been commanded, i.e. revealed, 

after a thousand generations. Actually, however, it was revealed after 

26 generations (from Adam to Noah, 10; from Noah to Abraham, 10; 

from Abraham to Moses, 6; total, 26); hence the other 974 were 

blotted out. 2 Which was enjoined upon Abraham, after only twenty 

generations — Eccl. R. 1, 15; Hag. 13&. 

a Comprising the Kingdom of Northern Israel. They were exiled to 

Assyria after the overthrow of their kingdom. 

4 Cf. SJS. R. 1, 4, § 3. * Me'od (exceeding) being repeated. 

226 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXVIII. 5-6 

good deeds, as it is written, Hands therein accepted no 
duties (ib.), 1 which R. Tanhuma interpreted: Hand did 
not join hand. 2 But the former stretched forth their hands 
to good deeds, as it is written, The hands of women full of 
compassion have sodden their own children and provided the 
mourner's meal? 

R. Huna said : What was perpetrated by the coastal cities 4 
was not perpetrated even by the generation of the Flood, 5 
for it is written, Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea-coast, 
the nation of the Cherethites (Zeph. 11, 5), which means that 
they deserved to be annihilated (kareth). Yet for whose 
sake do they stand? For the sake of one nation 6 and one 
God-fearing person whom the Holy One, blessed be He, 
receives from their hands. 7 

'The nation of the Cherethites": [Others] interpret it 
in a laudatory sense, as you read, That maketh (koreth) 
the covenant. 8 

6. Both man, and beast, and creeping thing, 
and fowl of the air. R. Judan said: This may be 
illustrated by the case of a king who entrusted his son to a 
teacher who led him into evil ways, whereat the king became 
angry with his son and slew him. Said the king : * Did any 
lead my son into evil ways save this man; my son has 
perished and this man lives!' 9 Therefore [God destroyed] 
Both man and beast. 10 R. Phinehas said: A king 

1 E.V. * No hands fell upon her . 

s To give assistance. — The rich never helped the poor. 

3 Ib. 10. The first meal eaten by a mourner after the funeral must not 
be his own but must be provided by his neighbours; this is called 
se'udath habra'ah (the meal of comfort), from which he derives le-baroth; 
v. Lam. R. rv, 10 (13) ; Sanh. 104b. Having nothing else, they even cooked 
their own children for the purpose! *EJ. softens this by explaining: 
they gave their last morsel, and so it was as though they had sodden 
their own children, since nothing was left for them and they had to die 
of hunger. V. Lam. R. on in, 10 (§ 13). 

4 Antioch, Gaza, Ashkelon, etc. 5 Yet the former are still in existence. 
6 Var. lee: proselyte. 7 V. Schurer, GescJnchte, in, 123, on the pious 
men (proselytes) who arose from the Gentiles. 

8 Th. conjectures that the reference is to Ps. L, 5 : Those that have made 
(korethe) a covenant with Me by sacrifice, v. S.S. R. 1, 4, § 3. 

9 Surely not. 10 The fat animals and birds which they ate led them into evil. 

227 



XXVIII. 6-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

gave his son in marriage and prepared a nuptial chamber 
for him, plastering, painting, and decorating it. Sub- 
sequently the king was angry with his son and slew him, 
whereupon he entered the nuptial chamber and broke 
the [supporting] rods, tore down the partitions, and rent 
the curtains, exclaiming: 'My son has perished: shall 
these remain!' Therefore [God destroyed] Both man 
and beast, 1 as it is written, I will consume man and 
beast, etc. (Zeph. I, 3). [The verse continues], And the 
siumhlingblocks with the wicked (ib.): It was they [the 
animals, etc.] wilich caused the wicked to stumble, for 
one would catch a bird and say to it, ' Go, fatten thyself, 
and then return/ whereupon it would go, fatten itself, 
and then return. 2 

7. R. Eleazar quoted: Surely their substance is cut off 
(Job xxii, 20). First the Holy One, blessed be He, destroyed 
their wealth, lest they should say, 'He needs our wealth.' 
And their abundance the fire hath consumed (ib.) : they saw 
their chains of gold melted in the fire. R. Akiba said: 
All [the prophets] complained of the gold and silver which 
went forth with them from Egypt : e.g., Thy silver is 
become dross (Isa. 1, 22) ; And multiplied unto her silver and 
gold, which they used for Baal (Hos. 11, 10); Of their silver 
and their gold have they made them idols y etc. (ib. viii, 4). 
R. Huna and R. Jeremiah in the name of R. Samuel b. 
Isaac said: It is not written, 'That they may be cut off,' 
but That it may be cut off (ib.), z as a man says : ' I will blot 
out the name of So-and-so who led my son into evil 
paths/ 4 

8. R. 'Azariah said in R. Judah's name: All acted 
corruptly in the generation of the Flood : the dog [copulated] 
with the wolf, the fowl with the peacock ; hence it is written, 



1 Since the animals were created for the sake of man. 

1 I.e. there was abundant prosperity, which led to evil. V, Sanh. loSa. 

s Lit. translation, the text being in the singular. 

* Similarly, that it % so. their silver, may be cut off, since that led them 

into sin. 

228 



GENESIS (bereshith) [XXVIII. 8 

For all flesh had corrupted their way, etc. (Gen. vi, 12). 1 
R. Julian [Lulianus] b. Tiberius said in R. Isaac's name: 
Even the earth acted lewdly; wheat was sown and it 
produced pseudo-wheat, 2 for the pseudo-wheat we now 
find came from the age of the deluge. 

R. Johanan said: We learnt 3 : The judgment of the 
generation of the Flood lasted twelve months : having 
received their punishment, are they to enjoy a portion in 
the World to Come?*— Said R. Johanan: The Holy One, 
blessed be He, will boil up in Gehenna every single drop 
which He poured out on them, produce it and pour it 
down upon them. Thus it is written, What time they wax 
hot, they vanish (Job VI, 17), which means, they will be 
destroyed absolutely by scalding water. As well their love 
(Eccl. IX, 6) — i.e. they loved idolatry; As their hatred (ih.): 
they hated the Holy One, blessed be He, and provoked 
His jealousy; Is long ago perished, neither have they any 
more a portion in the world [to come] on account of every- 
thing that was done [by them] under the sun (ib.). 5 

For it repenteth Me, etc. R. Abba b. Kahana 
observed: For it repenteth Me that I have 
made them and Noah — surely not! 6 Even Noah, 
however, was left not because he deserved it, but because 
he found grace: hence, But Noah found grace in 
the eyes of the Lord. 7 

1 Not only human beings. — Hence the Flood destroyed all. Cf. Sanh. — 
108a. 2 Jast. (darnel or rye-grass). 3 'Ed. 11, 10. 
* But it is stated in Sanh. x, 3 that they have no portion in the World 
to come. 

5 Infra, xxxni, 7; Lev. R. vn, 6; Eccl. R. ix, 4. 

6 By disregarding the punctuation it appears that even Noah was included. 

7 Cf. supra, xxvij 6; Sanh. 108a. 



229 



XXIX. i- 3 ] 

Chapter XXIX (BERESHITH) 

i. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the 
Lord (vi, 8). He deliver eth him that is innocent (i naki), 
yea, thou shali be delivered through the cleanness of thy hands 
(Job xxn, 30). R. Hanlna 1 said: Noah possessed less than 
an ounce (unkiaf [of merit]. If so, why was he delivered? 
Only 'Through the cleanness of Thy hands'? This agrees 
with what R. Abba b. Kahana said: For it repent eth Me 
that I have made them and Noah. But Noah was left only 
because he found grace; hence, But Noah found 

GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD. 4 

2. R. Simon quoted: Thus saith the Lord: As, when 
wine is found in the cluster, one saith : Destroy it not, for a 
blessing is in it (Isa. lxv, 8). It is related that a certain pious 
man went out to his vineyard and seeing a single [ripe] 
bunch pronounced a blessing over it, saying, 'This single 
bunch merits a blessing.' Even so, 'Thus saith the Lord: 
As, when wine is found in the cluster,' etc. 5 

3. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the 
Lord. R. Simon said: The Holy One, blessed be He, 
found three treasures 6 : And Thoufoundest his [Abraham's] 
heart faithful before Thee (Neh. ix, 8); I have found David 
My servant (Ps. lxxxix, 21); I found Israel like grapes in 
the wilderness (Hos. ix, 10). His colleagues objected: Surely 
it is written, But Noah found grace in the eyes 
of the Lord? — He found, replied he, but the Holy 
One, blessed be He, did not find. 7 R. Simon interpreted: 

1 Var. lee. : R. Hanlna of Anatoth said. 

2 This is a play on i nafri, as though it read unkza : He delivereth him that 
hath an ounce of merit. * Referring it to God — i.e. as a special act of 
grace. 4 Supra, xxvin ad fin. s He refers the verse to Noah. 

6 Lit. "finds' — with whom He was pleased. Mah.: He found these three 
when the moment was opportune: Abraham, to introduce the worship 
of the true God; Israel, to receive the Torah; and David, to wield 
sovereignty over Israel. 

7 God did not find grace in him, because he was not actually righteous 
save by contrast with his contemporaries. 

230 



GENESIS (BERESHITH) [XXIX. 3-5 

The people that were left of the sword have found grace in the 
wilderness (Jer. xxxi, 2) : that means, for the sake of the 
generation of the wilderness. 1 

4. R. Hunia and R. Phinehas, R. Hanan and R. 
Hoshaia do not explain [what grace Noah found]; R. 
Berekiah in R. Johanan's name, R. Simeon b. Lakish, and 
the Rabbis do explain. R. Johanan said: Imagine a man 
walking on a road, when he saw someone whom he attached 
to himself. To what extent? Until he was knit to him in 
love. Similarly, 'grace' is said here, while in another 
passage we read, And Joseph found favour [grace] in his 
sight (Gen. xxxix, 3). 2 R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Imagine 
a man walking on a road, when he saw someone whom he 
attached to himself. To what extent? So much that he 
conferred dominion upon him. Similarly, 'grace 1 is said 
here, while elsewhere it says, And Esther obtained favour 
in the sight of all them that looked upon her (Est. 11, 15). 3 
The Rabbis said: It may be compared to one who was 
walking on a road, when he saw a man whom he attached 
to himself so strongly that he gave him his daughter in 
marriage. Similarly, 'grace 3 is said here, while elsewhere 
it is said, And I will pour upon the house of David and upon 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace (Zech. xn, 
10). 4 How far [did God's favour to Noah extend] ? — Until 
he knew which animal was to be fed at two hours of the 
day and which beast was to be fed at three hours of the 
night. 5 

5. R. Abbahu said: We find that the Holy One, blessed 
be He, shows mercy to the descendants for the sake of their 

1 Th.: this is mentioned in passing, because R. Simon has just spoken 
about 'finding*. 

2 l Favour * and 'grace ' are the same in Hebrew (hen). — Thus Noah found 
as much favour in God's sight as Joseph in his master's. 

3 The result being that Ahasuerus made her queen so that she enjoyed 
honour and power. 

4 Which will unite them as though in wedlock with the Almighty. 
Each successive comparison connotes a higher degree of favour and 
intimacy. 6 V. Sanh. 108b. 

231 



XXIX. 5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

forbears. 1 But how do we know that the Lord shows 
mercy to the forbears for the sake of their descendants ? 
Because It says, But Noah found grace, which w T as 
for the sake of his offspring, as it Is written, These are the 

generations of Noah. 2 

1 Lit. 'later ones . . . earlier ones. 1 2 Interpreting: But Noah found 
grace because of these generations that followed him. 



232 



[XXX. i-3 

Chapter XXX 
NOACH 

i. These are the generations of Noah (vi, 9). 
When the whirlwind passeth, the wicked is no more; but the 
righteous is an everlasting foundation (Prov. x, 25). ' When 
the whirlwind passeth, the wicked is no more ' — this refers to 
the generation of the Flood; 'But the righteous is an ever- 
lasting foundation* — this refers to Noah, as it is written, 
These are the generations of No ah: Noah 
was a righteous man. 

The wicked are overthrown^ and are not (ib. xii, 7) : this 
refers to the generation of the Flood ; But the house of the 
righteous shall stand (ib.) — this refers to Noah: These 
are the generations of Noah. 

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown (ib. xiv, n): 
this refers to the generation of the Flood ; But the tent of 
the upright shall flourish (ib.) — this refers to Noah: 
These are the generations of Noah. 1 

2. He is swift (kal) upon the face of the waters (Job xxiv, 
18): A decree was pronounced against them that they 
should perish by water 2 ; Their portion is cursed in the earth 
(ib.) y [as people curse], He who punished the generation 
of the Flood [punish them]. 3 And why all this? — Because, 
He turneth not by the way of the vineyards (ib.): their 
intention was not to plant vineyards. 4 But Noah's only 
intention was to be fruitful and multiply in the world: 
hence, These are the generations of Noah. 5 

3. These: R. Abbahu said: Wherever 'these* (eleh) 
is written, it cancels the preceding; 'and these' (we-eleh) 
adds to the preceding. Here that 'these' is written, it 

1 I.e. Noah alone was blessed with generations which continued after 
him and formed the origins of the new world. 

2 Kal is connected with kol, a voice: there is a voice, i.e. a decree; cf. 
Dan. iv, 28. 3 Cf. B.M. 44a. I.e. they shall remain in the earth only 
as a means of cursing. * They indulged in sexual enjoyment without 
the intention to procreate. 5 Cf. Sanh. 108a. 

233 



XXX. 3-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

cancels the preceding- What does it cancel ? The generation 

of the Flood. 1 

4. These are the offspring of Noah: Noah 
[was a righteous man]. R. Abba b. Kahana said: 
Whoever has his name thus repeated has a portion in this 
world and in the W T orld to Come* They raised an objection 
to him: But it is written, Now these are the generations of 
Terah. Terah begot Abram, etc. (Gen. XI, 27) : has he a 
portion in this world and in the future world? Even this 
does not contradict me, he replied, for R. Judan said in 
R. Abba's name: But thou [Abraham] shall go to thy fathers 
in peace (ib. xv, 15) : He [God] informed him that his 
father had a portion in the World to Come ; Thou shalt be 
buried in a good old age (ib,) : He informed him that Ishmael 
would repent. 3 

5. These are the offspring of Noah: Noah, 
etc. Surely Scripture should have written, 'These are the 
offspring of Noah: Shem,' etc.? It teaches, however, 
that he was a comfort to himself and a comfort to the world, 
a comfort to his fathers and a comfort to his children, a 
comfort to celestial beings and to mortals; [a comfort] 
in this world and in the World to Come. 3 

6. These are the offsprings of Noah: Noah. 
Thus it is written, The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, 
and he that is wise taketh souls (Prov. xi, 30) : what is the 
fruit of the righteous? Life, religious actions, and good 
deeds. 4 And he that is wise taketh souls: for he fed and 
provided for [its inhabitants] the whole twelve months in 
the Ark. After all this praise, Behold, shall the righteous 
be requited in the earth (ib. 31) ? 5 When he was about to 
leave it, was he requited? Surely R. Huna said in R. Liezer's 



1 Cf. supra , xii, 3. I.e. the generation of the Flood perished completely, 
so that its offspring are not to be counted. * Infra, xxxvra, 12. 
■ Connecting rmah with nahem, to comfort, as in v, 29. 
4 Interpreting: The offspring of Noah were his righteousness and good 
deeds. s The Midrash understands this as a question. 

234 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXX. 6-7 

name : When Noah was leaving the Ark a lion set on him 
and maimed him, so that he was not fit to sacrifice, 1 and 
his son Shem sacrificed in his stead. Infer from this : How 
much more the wicked and the sinner (ib.), which refers to the 
generation of the Flood. 2 

7. [Noah was in his generations] a man 
[righteous and whole-hearted]. Wherever 'a 
man ' occurs, it indicates a righteous man who warned [his 
generation]. For a whole one hundred and twenty years 3 
Noah planted cedars and cut them down. On being asked, 
'Why are you doing this?' he replied: 'The Lord of the 
universe has informed me that He will bring a Flood in the 
world/ Said they [his contemporaries] to him: 'If a Flood 
does come, it will come only upon your father's house!' 
Thus it is written, A contemptible brand (lappid buz) in the 
thought of him that is at ease> a thing ready for them whose 
foot slippeth (Job xn, 5). R. Abba interpreted: The Holy 
One, blessed be He, said: 'One herald arose for me in the 
generation of the Flood, viz. Noah.' For elsewhere 4 
people say, 'Arouse him, stir him up!' 5 'Buz' (contempt) 
intimates that they despised him and called him, 'Con- 
temptible old man ! ' In the thought of (le-'ashtoth) him that 
is at ease: this teaches that they were as hard as metal 
('ashtoth). 6 A thing ready for them whose foot slippeth; 
two disasters were ready for them: a disaster from above 
and a disaster from below. 7 



1 A maimed person may not engage in sacrificial service. 

2 In spite of his comparative righteousness, Noah was thus punished for 
his sins (v. supra: God did not find grace in Noah); how much more 
then are the really wicked to be punished! 

3 V. Gen. vi, 3, which according to the Rabbis meant that God gave 
izo years' warning before bringing the Flood. 

4 Probably referring to Babylon, Genesis Rabbah being a Palestinian 
work. 

5 Aramaic lepod, to stir up. This is quoted to show that lappid (E.V. 
'brand') means, 'arouse/ 'stir up/ 

6 Translating : to the metal-hearted who are at ease. 

7 Cf. Gen. vii, 11:... Were all the fountains of the great deep broken up f 
and the windows of heaven were opened. Thus their disaster came from 
below and above. 

23s 



XXX. 8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

8. Whole-hearted. Bar Hutah said: Every man 
whom the Scripture designates ' Whole-hearted* completed 
his years according to the measure of the Septennate. * 

Was. R. Johanan said: Every man of whom it is said 
that he * was * (hayah) remained unchanged from beginning 
to end. 2 An objection was raised : But it is written, Abraham 
was one, and he inherited the land (Ezek. xxxiii, 24) : was 
he then unchanged from beginning to end ! That too does 
not refute me, he replied : R. Johanan and R. Hanina both 
said : Abraham was forty-eight years old when he recognised 
his Creator. Then how is 'was* to be understood in his 
case? 3 He was destined to lead the whole world to 
repentance. 4 [Similarly], Behold, the man zvas (Gen. 111, 22) 5 
means: destined to die. The serpent was (ib. 1): destined 
to punishment. Cain was (ib. iv, 2) : predestined to exile ; Job 
was (Job 1, 1): destined to suffering; Noah was: destined 
for a miracle 6 ; Moses was (Ex. in, 1): destined to be a 
redeemer ; Mordecaiwas (Est. n, 5): destined for redemption. 7 

R. Levi said : Everyone of whom it is said that he ' was ' 
(hayah) saw a new world. Said R. Samuel b. Nahman: 
And they are five. Noah: yesterday [it was a case of] The 
waters wear the stones (Job xiv, 19), for R. Levi said in 
R. Johanan's name : Even the nether millstone was dissolved 
by the water ; 8 whereas now you read, And the sons of Noah 
that went forth, etc. (Gen. ix, 18) ! Thus he saw a new world. 
Joseph : yesterday, His feet they hurt with fetters (Ps. cv, 
18), while now, And Joseph was the governor over the land 
(Gen. xlii, 6) I Thus he saw a new world. Moses : yesterday 
he was fleeing from Pharaoh, and now he plunges him into 

1 I.e. he lived a multiple of seven years after this epithet was applied to 
him. Thus Noah lived 350 years after the Flood. Again, Abraham was 
told to be whole-hearted when he was commanded to circumcise himself 
at the age of 99, and lived to the age of 175, which is 77 years more, 
including the 99th year. Similarly, David lived 70 years. On the 
significance of 7 v. JJz. art. Numbers and Numeral. 
s Lit. "that was his beginning, that was his end *. 

3 Since there was a change in his life. 

4 From birth. Thus in that respect he remained unchanged. 
s Lit. translation of hayah. E.V. 'is become*. 

6 Or possibly: destined to be a sign to his contemporaries. 

7 Ex. R. n, 4; Est. R. vi, 3. * Supra, xxvin, 3. 

236 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXX. 8-9 

the sea! Thus he saw a new world. Job: yesterday, He 
poureth out my gall upon the ground (Job XVI, 13). While 
now, And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before 
{ib. xlii, 10) ! Thus he saw a new world. Mordecai : yester- 
day he was ready for the gallows, and now he executes his 
executioner ! Thus he saw a new w T orld. The Rabbis said : 
Every man of whom it is said that he ' was ' (hay ah) fed 
and sustained others. Noah fed and sustained [the inmates 
of the Ark] twelve months, as it says, And take thou unto 
thee of all food that is eaten (Gen. vi, 21). Joseph fed and 
sustained: And Joseph sustained, etc. (ib. xlvii, 12). Moses 
fed and sustained [the Israelites] the whole forty years in 
the wilderness. Job fed and sustained: Or have I eaten my 
morsel myself alone, etc. (Job xxxi, 17) ? — did not the father- 
less eat thereof! But did Mordecai actually feed and 
sustain? 1 Said R. Judan: On one occasion he went round 
to all the wet nurses but could not find one for Esther, 
whereupon he himself suckled her. R. Berekiah and 
R. Abbahu in R. Eleazar's name said : Milk came to him and 
he suckled her. 2 When R. Abbahu taught this publicly, the 
congregation laughed. Said he to them : Yet is it not a Mish- 
nah? 3 R. Simeon b. Eleazarsaid: The milk of a male is clean. 4 

9. In his generations. R. Judah and R. Nehemiah 
differed. R. Judah said: Only in his generations was he a 
righteous man [by comparison]; had he flourished in the 
generation of Moses or Samuel, he would not have been 
called righteous: in the street of the totally blind, the 
one-eyed man is called clear-sighted, and the infant is 
called a scholar. It is as if a man who had a wine vault 
opened one barrel and found it vinegar; another and found 
it vinegar; the third, however, he found turning sour. 
'It is turning/ people said to him. 'Is there any better 
here?' he retorted. Similarly, In his generations 
he was a righteous man. R. Nehemiah said: If he was 
righteous even in his generation, 5 how much more so [had 

1 Surely there is no record of that! 

2 Always, and he never sought a wet-nurse. * Makshirin vi, 7. 

* Est. R. ib.; cf. Shab. 536. * In spite of his corrupt environment. 

237 



XXX, 9~ 10 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

he lived] in the age of Moses. He might be compared to 

a tightly closed phial of perfume lying in a graveyard, 
which nevertheless gave forth a fragrant odour; how much 

more then if it were outside the graveyard ! 1 

10. Noah walked with God. R. Judah said: 
This may be compared to a king who had two sons, one 
grown up and the other a child. To the child he said, 
'Walk trith me/ but to the adult, 'Walk before me.' 
Similarly, to Abraham, whose [moral] strength was great, 
[He said,] ' Walk thou before Me' (Gen. xvn, i); of Noah, 
whose strength was feeble [it says], Noah walked 
with God. R. Nehemiah said: He might be compared 
to a king's friend who was plunging about in dark alleys, 
and when the king looked out and saw him sinking [in the 
mud], he said to him, 'Instead of plunging about in dark 
alleys, come and walk with me/ But Abraham's case is 
rather to be compared to that of a king who was sinking 
in dark alleys, and when his friend saw him he shone a 
light for him through the window. Said he to him, ' Instead 
of lighting me through the window, come and show a 
light before me.' Even so did the Holy One, blessed be 
He, say to Abraham : ' Instead of showing a light for Me 
from Mesopotamia and its environs, come and show one 
before Me in Eretz Israel.' 

Similarly, it is written, And he blessed Joseph, and said: 
The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did 
walk, etc. (Gen. xlviii, 15). R. Berekiah in R. Johanan's 
name and Resh Lakish gave two illustrations of this. R. 
Johanan said: It was as if a shepherd stood and watched 
his flocks. 2 Resh Lakish said: It was as if a prince walked 
along while the elders preceded him. 3 On R. Johanan's 
view : We need His proximity. 4 On the view of Resh Lakish : 
He needs us to glorify Him. 5 

1 Sanh. 10&2. 

2 Similarly, Abraham and Isaac walked before God and in His protection. 
s As an escort, to make known his coming. Similarly, Abraham and 
Isaac walked before God, spreading His knowledge. 

4 Lit. 'place \ We must be near to God, as it were, so as to enjoy His 
protection. 5 By propagating the knowledge of His greatness. 

238 



[XXXI. i-2 
Chapter XXXI (NOACH) 
i. And God said unto Noah: The end of all 

FLESH IS COME BEFORE ME; FOR THE EARTH IS 
FILLED WITH VIOLENCE THROUGH THEM (vi, 13). 

It is written, Violence is risen up as a rod of wickedness ; 
nought comethfrom them, nor from their tumult (hamonam), 
nor from their turmoil (hemehem) ; neither is there eminency 
(nohah) among them (Ezek. VII, n). 'Violence is risen up' — 
heaven forfend! It has not risen up. Yet if it has, it is as 
'A rod of wickedness" — to punish the wicked. 'Nought 
comethfrom them, nor from their tumult (hamonam)/ 'Nor 
from their turmoil (hemehem) ' : i.e. neither from them nor 
from their wealth 1 nor from their dazzling magnificence. 
Why so ? Because ' Neither is there nohah [E.V. " eminency "] 
among them'. No creature ever enjoyed satisfaction, 2 nor 
did the Holy One, blessed be He, receive satisfaction from 
them. 3 'Neither is there nohah among them': There was 
none to say to them: 'Let there be lamenting !' 4 Again: 
'Neither was there nohah among them' [is to be explained] 
as R. Abba b. Kahana commented: For it repenteth Me 
that I have made them and Noah (Gen. vi, 7 f.). But even 
Noah, who was left, was not worthy, save that he found 
grace as it is written, But Noah found grace (ib.). b And 
because they were steeped in robbery, they were blotted 
out from the world, as it says, And God said unto 
Noah: The end of all flesh is come before 
me, for the earth is filled with violence 
through them. 6 

2. They made oil within their rows, etc. (Job xxiv, 11): 
that means that they set up small oil-presses 7 ; They tread 

1 Hamon is sometimes used in that sense; cf. Eccl. v, 9. 

2 Nahath ruah, lit. 'pleasing' or 'calming of the spirit'. 

3 Reading nohah (m) as noah (m) ; possibly too the latter was their 
actual reading. 4 Heb. nehi, i.e. penitence. s Translating: Not 
even Noah among them was worthy; v. supra, xxviii, 8. 

6 The idea of this ending here and the following passages is probably 
that notwithstanding all the other wrongs they perpetrated, the Flood 
actually came on account of robbery; cf. Sanh. 108a. 

7 Actually between the rows of olives, so as to press them immediately. 

239 



XXXL 2-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

their wine-presses, and suffer thirst (ib.): even when they 
tread their wine-presses, they suffer thirst. R. Aibu said: 
Why do ' They tread their wine-presses, and suffer thirst*} 
Because a curse rested upon the toil of the wicked. And 
because they were steeped in robbery, they were blotted 
out from the world: hence, And God said unto 
Noah, etc. 

3. They hate him that reproveth in the gate, and they 
abhor him that speaketh uprightly (Amos v, 10). He [Noah] 
reproved them: 'Ye good-for-nothings! Ye forsake Him 
whose voice breaks cedars and worship a dry log!' And 
because they were steeped in robbery, they were blotted 
out from the world : hence, And God said to 
Noah, etc. 

4. By reason of the multitude of (merob) oppressions they 
cry out; they cry for help by reason of the arm of the mighty 
(Job xxxv, 9): 'By reason of the multitude of oppressions 
they cry out ' refers to the oppressed ; ' They cry for help 
by reason of the arm of the mighty ' to the oppressors : the 
latter contended with the former, and the former with the 
latter, 1 until the decree of their judgment was sealed. And 
because they were steeped in robbery they were blotted 
out from the world: hence, And God said unto 
Noah, etc. 

5. The end (kez) of all flesh (basar) is 
come before me: The time has come for them to 
be cut down (hikkazez) ; the time has come for them to be 
treated as unripe grapes (boser) 2 ; the term of their indict- 
ments has come. Why all this? Because the earth 
is filled with violence (hamas) through them. 
What is 'hamas' (violence) and what is gezel (robbery)? 
Said R. Hanina: ' Hamas * (violence) refers to what is worth 
a perutah; gezel (robbery), to what is of less value than a 

1 Th. conjectures that merob (E.V. multitude of) is connected with rib 
and meribah, strife. 2 By a play on words, fez (rp) and basar (ibo) 
are connected with hikkazez (yvpri) and boser (imi) respectively. 

240 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXI. 5-7 

perutah. 1 And this is what the people of the age of the Flood 
used to do : When a man brought out a basket full of lupines 
[for sale], one would come and seize less than a perutah' s 
worth and then everyone would come and seize less than a 
perutah' s worth, so that he had no redress at law. Where- 
upon the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'Ye have acted 
improperly, so will I too deal with you improperly/ 2 
Hence it is written, Is not their tent-cord plucked up within 
them? They die, and that without wisdom (Job iv, 21): i.e. 
without the wisdom of the Torah. Betwixt morning and 
evening they are shattered; they perish for ever without any 
regarding (mesim) it (ib. 20). Now 'mesim' can only refer 
to judgment, 3 as you read, Now these are the ordinances 
[judgments] which thou shalt set (tasim) before them (Ex. 
xxi, i). 4 

6. Another interpretation : For the earth is 
filled with hamas (violence), etc. R. Levi said: 
'Hamas* connotes idolatry, incest, 5 and murder. Idolatry, 
as it is written, For the earth is filled with 
9AMAS. 6 Incest : The violence done to me (hamasi fr. 
hamas) and to my flesh (she'eri) be upon Babylon (Jer. li, 
35). 7 Murder: For the hamas [E.V. 'violence'] against the 
children of Judah because they have shed innocent blood (Joel 
lv, 19). In addition, hamas (violence) bears its literal 
meaning also. 8 

7. Behold, I will destroy them with the 
earth. R. Huna and R. Jeremiah in R. Kahana's name 

1 & perutah being the smallest coin, in the latter case there was no redress. 
The commentaries reverse these definitions, and the text too demands it. 

2 I.e. in a way that you will not relish. 

3 Here in the sense of civil law — i.e. because they evaded its provisions. 

4 V. supra, xxvi, 6. 5 The term in Hebrew includes adultery. 

6 This is not altogether clear. It is explained in the ma np 1 ? thus: 
the verse implies that they rejected Him whose glory fills the earth, hence 
they engaged in idolatry. Others, however, read: In that they fill the earth 
with hamas (violence) — Ezek. vnr, 17, which refers to idolatry, of which 
the whole chapter treats; v. also Sanh. 57a. 

7 MSS. add: and sheer must refer to incest, cf. Lev. xvni, 6 : None of you 
shall approach to she'er besaro (E.V. 'any that is near of kin to him*; 
besaro, lit. 'his flesh'). 8 Viz. robbery. 

241 R 



XXXI. 7~9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said: Even the three handbreadths of the earth's surface 
which the plough turns was washed away. 1 It is as if a royal 
prince had a tutor, and whenever he did wrong, his tutor 
was punished; or as if a royal prince had a nurse, and 
whenever he did wrong, his nurse was punished. Similarly, 
the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'Behold, I will 

DESTROY THEM WITH THE EARTH." behold, I will 

destroy them and the earth with them/ 2 

8. Make thee an ark, etc. (vi, 14). R. Issi said: 
In four places this phrase 'Make thee' Is employed; in 
three places It Is explained, 3 while In one it Is not explained. 
Thus: Make thee an ark of gopher wood, etc. 
R. Nathan said: That means with beams of cedar. 4 Make 
thee knives of flint (Josh, v, 2) means flint knives. Make thee 
two trumpets of silver (Num. x, 2) is likewise clear in 
meaning. But the meaning of Make thee a fiery serpent 
(ib. xxi, 8) Is not clear. 5 R. Judan said in R. Assi's name: 
The wise man may hear, and increase in learning (Prov. 1, 
6) applies to Moses, who reasoned thus: If I make it of 
gold (zahab) or of silver (kesef) t these words do not corre- 
spond to the other. 6 Hence I will make It of nehosheih 
(brass), since this word corresponds to the other, viz. 
nekask nehosheih — a serpent of brass (ib. 9): this proves 
that the Torah was given In Hebrew. 7 R. Phinehas and 
R. Hezeklah In R. Simon's name said: Just as the Torah 
was given In Hebrew, so was the world created with 
Hebrew: have you ever heard one say, gini, ginia; itha, 
ittha; antropi, antropia; gabra, gahretha? But [we do say] 
ish and isha: why? because one form corresponds to the 
other. 8 

9. With kinnim [E.V. 'rooms'] shalt thou 
make the ark: I.e. cells and chambers. R. Isaac said: 



1 Thus translating the verse literally. 

1 The earth too being regarded as man's nurse, as it were. Cf. supra, 

xxvin, 6. 3 What was to be made. * A kind of cedar is meant. 

5 The material is left in doubt. * Viz. nahash (serpent). 

7 For only in Hebrew do these words correspond. * V. supra, xvm, 4. 

242 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXI. 9-10 

Just as a ken (pair of birds) cleanses a leper, 1 so shall thy 
ark cleanse thee. 2 

And thou shalt pitch it within and with- 
out with pitch. Yet elsewhere it says, And she 
daubed it with slime and with pitch (Ex. n, 3)? There, 
since the water [of the Nile] was gentle, ' She daubed it with 
slime ' on account of the water, ' And with pitch ' on account 
of the odour. 3 

10. And this is how thou shalt make it (vi, 
15). R. Judan said: And this [is written where], 
this [would have sufficed] : [God intimated] : Another 4 
is destined to measure with thy cubit, as it is written, The 
length of the building after the ancient [lit. * first'] measure 
was twenty cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits (11 Chron. 
ill, 3). 5 And why is it [the cubit] called tibikon? 6 R. Huna 
said: Because it comes from Thebes. 7 The Rabbis said: 
On account of Noah's tebah (ark). 8 

The length of the ark three hundred 
cubits, etc. Bar Huta quoted: I" will meditate in Thy 
precepts . . . I will delight myself in Thy statutes (Ps. cxix, 
15 f.): the Torah teaches you practical knowledge, that if 

1 V. Lev. xiv, 4 seq. 

2 This is a play on words, connecting Mttrdm with feeti. v. supra, xxvin, 9 ; 
even Noah was not worthy — hence he needed cleansing. 

3 Sot. 12a; Ex. R. 1, 21. M.K. and Y.T. reverse it: with slime on account 
of the smell and with pitch on account of the water — i.e. pitch on the 
outside to make it watertight, slime on the inside but not pitch, which 
has an unpleasant odour. On the present reading the idea is somewhat 
similar: with slime on the inside as an additional means of making it 
watertight, and with pitch on the outside only, but not on the inside, 
on account of the smell. 

4 Sc. Solomon, 'And* is regarded as an extension, God thereby intimating 
that one day another edifice of a different nature would be measured, 
viz. the Temple. 

* The quotation is incorrect, and should read : The length by cubits . . . 
was threescore cubits; v. Ezek. xli, 15, which may be the source of the 
error. The ancient (first) measure is taken to refer to Noah's measuring 
of the ark. 
fi Thebaic cubit, supposed to be the royal cubit of the Egyptians (Jast.). 

7 An ancient city of Egypt. Cur. edd. : because with it they fitted (the 
timber, etc.), i.e. they used this measure for building. 

8 Tebah and tibikon corresponding. 



XXXI. iO-Il] MIDRASH KABBAH 

a man builds a ship which is to stand upright in harbour, 
he must make its breadth a sixth [of its length] and its 

height a tenth. 1 

II. A LIGHT (ZOHAR) SHALT THOU MAKE TO THE 

ark (vi, 16). R. Hunia and R. Phinehas, R. Hanan and 
R. Hoshaia could not explain [the meaning of z o h a r] ; 
R. Abba b. Kahana and R. Levi did explain it. R. Abba 
b. Kahana said: It means a skylight; R. Levi said: A 
precious stone. 2 

R. Phinehas said in R. Levi's name: During the whole 
twelve months that Noah was in the Ark he did not require 
the light of the sun by day or the light of the moon by 
night, but he had a polished gem which he hung up : when 
it was dim he knew that it was day, and when it shone he 
knew that it was night. 3 

R. Huna said : Once we were taking refuge from [Roman] 
troops in the caves of Tiberias. We had lamps with us: 
when they were dim we knew that it was day, and when they 
shone brightly we knew that it was night. 

And TO A CUBIT SHALT thou finish it upward. 
R. Judah and R. Nehemiah disagree. R. Judah said: It 
contained three hundred and thirty compartments, each 
compartment being ten cubits square, and two corridors 
each four cubits wide; the compartments ran along each 
side [of the corridor], and there were two cubits at the 
[outer] sides [of the compartments]. 4 R. Nehemiah said: 
It contained nine hundred compartments, each being six 
cubits square, and three corridors of four cubits breadth, 
compartments running along each side and leaving two 
cubits at the [outer] sides. 5 On the view of R. Judah there 

1 These were the proportions of Noah's ark. 

2 Which provided light from itself. s Cf. Sanh. 1086. 

4 I.e. a gangway one cubit in breadth ran right round the outer side of 

the ark, thus accounting for two cubits. 

s V. Figures in Mah. R. Judah holds that there were four rows of thirty 

compartments on each of the first and second stories, but only three rows 

on the third, owing to its greater narrowness. But R. Nehemiah maintains 

that there were six rows of fifty compartments on each of the three 

stories. 

244 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXI. 11-12 

is no difficulty 1 ; but on R. Nehemiah's view there is a 
difficulty? 2 As was its cubit below so was its cubit above: 
And to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward. 3 
R. Nehemiah said: It was like a vaulted carriage, and he 
built it sloping inwards so that it tapered to a cubit. 4 

And the door of the ark shalt thou set in 
the side thereof. R. Isaac said: The Torah teaches 
you practical knowledge, that when you make a chamber 
ten cubits square, you should set its door at the side. 

With lower, second, and third stories 
shalt thou make it: the bottom storey for garbage, 
the second for himself and family and the clean animals, 
and the third for the unclean [ones]. Others reverse it: 
The bottom storey for the unclean animals, the second for 
himself and family and the clean animals, and the top for 
the garbage. How then did he manage? 5 He arranged a 
kind of trapdoor through which he shovelled it sideways. 6 

Shalt thou make it. It helped [to build] itself. 7 

12. And I, behold (vi, 17): I agree with the angels 
who urged, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him (Ps. 
viii, s)? 8 

Behold, I do bring the flood of waters. 
They were first waters, and as soon as they descended on 
the earth they became a flood. 9 

[Everything that is in the earth] yigwa' 
[E.V. 'shall perish']: i.e. shall shrivel up. 10 

1 It tapered, hence the top storey contained only three rows. 

2 How could the top storey contain as many rows as the bottom ones ? 

3 This passage is very obscure. M.K.: R. Judah holds that the same cubit 
that was used in measuring the bottom of the ark was used in measuring 
the top (cubits varied), and this is the meaning of the verse, viz. and by 
the (same) cubit thou shalt finish it above. 

4 I.e. the three stories were of equal breadth, and they were topped by an 
inward sloping roof, the thirty cubits height being exclusive of this roof. 

5 To get the garbage (excrements) to the bottom, this question being 
based on the first view. 

6 Sanh. 108b. 7 This follows by reading nbvn, it shall make itself. 
8 Cf. supra, viii, 6; Sanh. 386. 

8 M.K.: a destroying and devastating deluge. 

10 Th.: and sink down into the depths like a stone. 

24^ 



XXXI. 12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

BUT I WILL ESTABLISH MY COVENANT WITH 

thee, etc. (vi, 28). Thou neediest a covenant for the sake 
of the produce, that It should not decay or rot. Thou 
needest a covenant: the giants set their feet on the [opening 
of the] deep and closed it up, then each attempted to enter 
the Ark, whereupon his feet became entangled [in the 
water], as it is written, The giants [E.V. 'shades'] tremble 
beneath the waters and the inhabitants thereof— shokenehem 
(Job xsvi, 5). [Read] Shekenehem (their neighbours) 1 ; 
a Hon would come to the Ark and his teeth would loosen, 
as It is written, The lion roareth, and the fierce lion howleth 
and the teeth of the young lions are broken {ib. iv, 10). R. 
jHlyya b. Abba explained: Thou wast indeed the builder, 
yet but for My convenant which stood thee in stead, couldst 
thou have entered the Ark? 2 Thus it is written, But 

I WILL ESTABLISH MY COVENANT WITH THEE! when 

[will that be proved]? When thou art brought into the 
Ark. 3 

Thou, and thy sons, etc. R. Judah b. R. Simon 
and R. Ilanan In the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac said: 
As soon as Noah entered the Ark, cohabitation was inter- 
dicted to him; hence it is written, And thou shalt 
come into the ark, thou, and thy sons— apart; 
And thy wife, and thy sons' wives — apart. When 
he went out, He permitted it to him, as it is written, Go 
forth from the ark, thou and thy wife, etc. (Gen. vin, 16). 4 
R. Abln quoted: They are lonely in want and famine (Job 
xxx, 3): when want and famine visit the world, regard 
your wife as though she were lonely [i.e. menstruous]. 
R. Muna said: It is written, And unto Joseph were bom 
two sons (Gen. xli, 50): when? Before the year of famine 
came (ib.). 5 

1 The wild beasts, of which the lion is quoted as an example. 

2 You would have been prevented from entering. 

3 On all views the * covenant' here does not refer to the rainbow, but to 
God's assistance, without which Noah could never have made the Ark, 
or, having made it, would not have been able to keep out the great giants 
and wild animals. 

* He and his wife being mentioned together. 
5 Cf. infra, xxxiv, 7; Sanh. io%h» 

246 



genesis (noach) [xxxi. 13-14 

13. And of every living thing, of all flesh, 
etc, (vi, 19). R. Hoshaya said: Even spirits entered the ark 
with Noah; hence it is written, And of every 
living thing, of all flesh: i.e. of those for 
whom souls [spirits] were created but not bodies. 1 

R. Judah said: The re' em 2 did not enter the Ark, 3 but 
his w T helps did. R. Nehemiah said: Neither he nor his 
whelps, but Noah tied him to the Ark, and he ploughed 
furrows [in the water] as great as from Tiberias to Susitha, 4 
as it is w T ritten, Canst thou bind the wild-ox with his hand 
in the furrow, or will he harrow the valleys after thee (Job 
xxxix, 10)? In the days of R. Hiyya b. Abba a [re'em'sl 
whelp invaded Eretz Israel and did not leave a single tree 
which it did not uproot. A fast was proclaimed and R. 
Hiyya prayed, whereupon its mother bellowed from the 
desert and it [the whelp] went down [to the desert] at her 
voice. 

They shall be male and female. [God in- 
structed Noah] : ' If thou seest a male pursuing a female, 
accept him; a female pursuing a male, do not accept him.' 

14. And take thou unto thee of all food 
that is eaten. R. Abba b. Kahana said: He took in 
pressed figs with him. 5 It was taught in R. Nehemiah's 
name: The greater part of his provisions consisted of 
pressed figs. R. Abba b. Kahana said: He took in branches 
for the elephants, hazubah* for the deer, and glass for the 
ostriches. R. Levi said: Vine-shoots for vine plantings, 
fig-shoots for fig trees, and olive-shoots for olive trees. 
In the view of R. Abba b. Kahana: And it shall be for thee, 
and for them implies something that is for thee and for 
them. In the view of R. Levi And it shall be for thee, and 

1 This follows by contrast: since Of all flesh is mentioned 
separately, Living thing must refer to those that have life 
without flesh; cf. supra, vn, 5. 

2 Wild ox. A fabulous animal of enormous height. 

3 Being too high. 

4 Which lies on the opposite side of the Lake of Tiberias. 

5 These are eaten by all. 

8 A shrubby plant, prob. cistus (Jast. s.v. nztxn 1). 

247 



XXXI. 14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

for them implies, Thou art the principal and they are of 
secondary importance ; And gather it to thee : a man does 
not gather [store] anything unless he needs it [for later]. 1 
Thus did Noah; according to all that God 

COMMANDED HIM, SO DID HE (VI, 22). This text 

refers to the construction of the Ark. 2 

1 He understands gather (rscK) to mean store, hence it means for 

future use, viz. for replanting. Rashash. Infra, xxxvi, 3. 

2 Noah made the Ark as God commanded him. 



248 



[XXXII. i 



Chapter XXXII (NOACH) 



i. And the Lord said unto Noah: Come thou 

AND ALL THY HOUSE INTO THE ARK, etc. (VII, i). 

It is written, Thou destroyest them that speak falsehood, 
etc. (Ps. v, 7) : this refers to Doeg and Ahitophel ; ' Them 
that speak falsehood' : them and their speech. R. Phinehas 
said: Them and their company. 1 The man of blood and 
deceit (ib.): the one permitted incest and bloodshed, and 
the other permitted incest and bloodshed. The one 
[Ahitophel] permitted incest and bloodshed, [when he 
counselled Absalom], Go in unto thy father's concubines 
(11 Sam. xvi, 21). The other [Doeg] permitted incest: 
[Where do we find this] ? Said R. Nahman b. Samuel b. 
Nahman: He annulled his [David's] citizen rights and 
declared him an outlaw and as one dead, so that his blood 
was permitted and his wife was permitted. The Lord 
abhorreth (Ps. loc. cit.): this means that they will neither 
be resurrected nor judged. But as for me (ib. 8) : as they 
have acted so have I acted 2 ; yet what is the difference 
between me and them? Only that Thou hast shown me 
love and saidst to me, The Lord also hath put away thy sin : 
thou shalt not die (11 Sam. xii, 13). 

[Another interpretation]: It refers to the generation of 
the Flood: l Thou destroyest them that speak falsehood 1 : 
them and their speech. ' The man of blood, ' as it is written, 
The murderer riseth with the light, etc. (Job xxrv, 14); 
'And deceit,' as it is written, For the earth is filled with 
violence (Gen. vi, 13). 'The Lord abhorreth': they [the 
generation of the Flood] will neither be resurrected nor 
judged. 'But as for me' [Noah]: as they have acted so 
have I acted, 3 yet what is the difference between me and 
them? Only that Thou showedst love to me and saidst 
to me: Come thou and all thy house into 

THE ARK. 

1 Deriving dovere (E.V. 'speak') from davar, to lead : those who follow 

their lead. 2 In taking Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. 

8 Cf . the statement supra, xxvm, 9, that Noah too was unworthy. 



XXXII. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

2. For the Lord is righteous, He loveth righteousness; 
the upright shall behold His face (Ps. xi, 7). R. Tanhuma in 
R. Judah's name and R. Menahem in R. Eleazar's name 

said: No man loves his fellow-craftsman. A Sage, however, 
loves his compeer, e.g. R. Hiyya *°ves his colleagues 
and R. Hoshaya his. 1 The Holy One, blessed be He, also 
loves His fellow-craftsman 2 : hence, 'For the Lord is 
righteous, He loveth righteousness ; The upright shall behold 
His face 9 applies to Noah, as it is written, And the 
Lord said unto Noah: Come thou . . . for 
thee have i seen righteous before me. 3 

3. The Lord trieth the righteous; hut the wicked and him 

that loveth violence His soul hateth (Ps. xi, 5). R. Jonathan 
said: A potter does not test defective vessels, because 
he cannot give them a single blow without breaking them. 
Similarly the Holy One, blessed be He, does not test the 
wicked but only the righteous : thus, ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous J R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: When a flax worker 
knows that his flax is of good quality, the more he beats 
it the more it improves and the more it glistens ; but if it 
is of inferior quality, he cannot give it one knock without 
its splitting. Similarly, the Lord does not test the wicked 
but only the righteous, as it says, ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous. 3 R. Eleazar said: When a man possesses two cows, 
one strong and the other feeble, upon which does he put 
the yoke? Surely upon the strong one. Similarly, the 
Lord tests none but the righteous : hence, f The Lord trieth 
the righteous ■.' Another interpretation: ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous' applies to Noah: hence, And the Lord 
said unto Noah: Come thou and all thy 
house into the ark; for thee have I SEEN 
righteous, etc. 4 
For thee have I seen righteous, etc. R. 

1 Lit. *R. Hiyya (those) of R. Hiyya', etc. Some suggest: E.g. R. Hiyya 

loved R. Hoshaya, etc. 2 He is righteous and loves those who are 

righteous, who are in that respect His fellow- craftsmen. 

3 Y.T.: the verse is quoted to show that God actually loves to see the 

righteous: hence, For thee have I seen, etc. 

* Infra, xxxrv, 2; S.S.R. 11, 16, § z. 

2sO 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXII. 3-4 

Eleazar b. 'Azariah said: We find that a portion of a man's 
merits may be declared in his presence, but all of them only 
in his absence. For thus it says in reference to Noah, 
For thee have I seen righteous, 1 whereas in his 
absence it says, A man righteous and whole-hearted (Gen, vi, 
9). R. Eliezer b. R. Jose the Galilean said: We find that 
we utter but a portion of the praise of Him at whose word 
the world came into being, for it is said, Say unto God: 
How tremendous is Thy work! (Ps. lxvi, 3), and it says, 

give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good (ib. cxviii, i). 2 

4. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to 
thee . . . and of the beasts that are not 
clean, etc. (vn, 2). R. Judan in R. Johanan's name, 
R. Berekiah in R. Leazar's name, and R. Jacob in R. 
Joshua's name said: We find that the Holy One, blessed 
be He, employed a circumlocution of three words in order 
to avoid uttering an unclean [indelicate] expression: It is 
not written, 'And of the unclean beasts/ but ...That 
are not clean. 3 R, Judan said : Even when 
[Scripture] comes to enumerate the signs of unclean 
animals, it commences first with the signs of cleanness 
[which they possess] : it is not written, ' The camel, because 
he parteth not the hoof,' but, Because he cheweth the cud 
but parteth not the hoof (Lev. XI, 4); The rock-badger, 
because he cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof (ib. 5) ; 
The hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof 
(ib. 6) ; The swine, because he parteth the hoof and is cloven- 
footed, but cheweth not the cud (ib. 7).* 

Of the fowl also of the air, seven each— 
E.V. 'seven and seven' (vii, 3). If you say that it 
means seven of each kind, 5 one of them would lack a 

1 That was in speaking to him. 

2 'Er. 18&. Whether this means in God's presence (i.e. when we are 
actually addressing Him, as in the first verse quoted) only or on all 
occasions is not quite clear, and the readings vary; v. Th. ad loc. 

3 In Heb. too four words are thus employed instead of one. 

4 Lev. R. xxvi, 1 ; Pes. 3a. 

5 While 'male and female* might mean that the seven must include male 
and female — three of one and four of the other (Y.T. and Th.). 

2<I 



XXXII. 4~~ 6 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

mate; hence It means seven males and seven females; 
'not that I need them' [said God], 'but to keep 

SEED ALIVE UPON THE FACE OF ALL THE EARTH.' 

5. For yet seven days, etc. (vii, 4). R. Simeon 
b. Yohai said: They have transgressed the Torah which 
was given after forty days, 1 therefore I will cause it 

TO RAIN . . . FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS. 

R. Johanan said: They corrupted the features which take 
shape 'after forty days, 3 therefore I will cause it to 

RAIN . . . FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS. 

And every living substance (yekum) that 
I have made will I blot out. R. Berekiah said: 
That means, whatever exists (kayomaya) upon it. 3 R. Abin 
said: The one who arose against him [his brother]. 4 
R. Levi said in the name of Resh Lakish : He [God] kept 
him [Cain] in suspense 5 until the Flood came and swept 
him away: hence it is written, And He blotted out every 
one that had arisen (Gen. vn, 23). 6 

And Noah did according unto all, etc. (vn, 
5). The present verse refers to the taking in of the animals, 
beasts, and birds. 

6. And Noah was six hundred years old, 
etc. (vn, 6). R. Judah said : The year of the Flood is not 
counted in the number [of Noah's years]. 7 Said R. 
Nehemiah to him: It is counted in the chronological 

reckoning. 8 

And Noah went in, and his sons, etc. . . . 
because of the waters of the flood (vii, 7). 

1 Of Moses* stay in the mountain. 

2 The features of a human embryo take shape after forty days. The idea 
of the expression is that sin is an essential degradation of the human 
dignity. s This translation of yekum corresponds to E.V. 

* Viz. Cain, who arose against his brother, deriving ye%um from kam, 
to arise. He was not punished at the time, but would now be punished. 

* E.J.: i.e. He kept his judgment in suspense. 

* Sc. Cain, cf. supra, xxn, 12. E.V. 'Every living substance *. 

7 For he was 600 years old when the Flood commenced, the Flood 
lasted a year in all, and he lived 350 years after the Flood (Gen. IX, 28), 
yet his total is given at 950 (£6. 29), not 951. 

8 When we count the number of years from the world's creation. 

252 



GENESIS (noach) [XXXII. 6-8 

R. Johanan said : He lacked faith : had not the water reached 
his ankles he would not have entered the Ark. 

7. And it came to pass after the seven days 
(vii, 10). This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, 
gave them a respite during the seven days* mourning for 
the righteous Methusaleh, 1 so that they might repent, 
yet they did not. Another interpretation : And it 
came to pass after the seven days: R. Joshua b. 
Levi said: Seven days the Holy One, blessed be He, 
mourned for His world before bringing the Flood, the 
proof being the text, And it grieved Him (Gen. vi, 6), 
while elsewhere we read, The king grieveth for his son 
(n Sam. xix, 3). 2 

On the same day were all the fountains of 
the great deep broken up, etc. (vn, n). R. Jose 
b. Durmaskith said: They sinned through the eyeball, 3 
which is like water, therefore the Holy One, blessed be 
He, punished them by water. R. Levi said : They abused 
their fountains, 4 therefore the Lord reversed the natural 
order : the natural order is for rain to descend and the deep 
to come up, but here, Deep calleth unto deep (Ps. xlii, 8). 5 

8. In the selfsame day entered Noah (vii, 13). 
R. Johanan said : Had Noah entered the Ark at night his 
whole generation would have said, 'We did not know 
what he was doing, but had we known we would not have 
permitted him to enter/ Hence he entered In the 
selfsame day [with the challenge], 'Let him who 
objects speak out!' 6 

1 Cf. supra, nr, 6. 

2 Supra, xxvii, 4. Sanh. io8£. The period of deep mourning for a near 
relation is seven days. s Through passion and lust. 

4 Cf . supra, xxvi, 4 : * they poured out their semen upon trees and stones.* 

5 Sanh. loSa. Th. prefers here the reading of cur. edd. : the natural order 
is for the rain to descend (first) and the deep to ascend (afterwards), as it 
is written, Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of Thy cataracts ('E J.: 
the rain which descends causes the deep to ascend) ; whereas in the present 
instance, (first) * All the fountains of the deep were broken up' — i.e. the 
deep ascended — and after that * The windows of heaven were opened ' — 
the rain descended. * Cf. infra, xlvii, 9. 



XXXII. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

They, and every beast after its kind, etc. 
(vi J, 14)- They were the principals and all others were 
secondary. 

Every bird of every wing. 1 R. Eleazar said: R. 
Jose interpreted this to his colleagues 2 : This excludes 
those which were moulting or maimed as unfit for the 
sacrifices of the Noachides. 3 

And they that went in, went in male and 
female of all flesh (vn, 1 6). Said he to Him: 'Am 
I a hunter!' 4 'Does that matter to you/ He retorted; it is 
not written, 'And they that were brought,' but, And 
they that went in — of their own accord. R. 
Johanan quoted: Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and 
read (Isa. xxxiv, 16): if they came of their own accord in 
order to be shut up twelve months in the Ark, how much 
the more [will they come] to gorge on the flesh of tyrants ! 
Hence it is written, And thou, son of man, thus saith the 
Lord God: Speak unto the birds of every sort, and to every 
beast of the field: Assemble yourselves, and come; gather 
yourselves on every side to My feast that I do prepare for you, 
even a great feast, upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may 
eat flesh and drink blood. The flesh of the mighty shall ye eat, 
and the blood of the princes of the earth shall ye drink, etc. 
(Ezek. sxxix, 17 f.). 5 

And the Lord shut him in. R. Levi said: This 
may be compared to a king who decreed a general execution 
in a country, but took his friend, immured him in prison, 
and set his seal upon him. 6 Even so, And the 
Lord shut him in. 

9. And the waters increased, and bore up 
the ark, etc. (vii, 17). R. Phinehas said in R. Levi's 
name : Noah's ark thus sank in the water like a ship standing 
in harbour. 



1 Lit. translation. E.V. ' Of every sort'. 2 Or possibly, to the scholars. 

3 Hence: Of every wing — i.e. were not maimed or lacking 
in feathers. As stated supra (xxvi, 1), some of these were required for 
sacrifices. Zeb. 11 6a. 4 How am I to know their sex? 
* Zeb.» loc cit. • So that he might be spared. 

254 



genesis (noach) [xxxii. 9-iq 

And the waters prevailed . . . and the ark 
went upon the face of the waters (vii, 18). r. 
Phinehas said in R. Levi's name: The ark thus floated 
upon the water as upon two planks 1 [covering a distance] 
as from Tiberias to Susitha. 2 

10. And the waters prevailed . . . and all 

THE HIGH MOUNTAINS WERE COVERED (VII, 19). R. 

Jonathan was going up to worship in Jerusalem, when he 
passed the Palatinus 3 and was seen by a Samaritan, who 
asked him, 'Whither are you going ?' 'To worship in 
Jerusalem/ replied he. 'Would it not be better to pray at 
this holy mountain than at that dunghill?* he jeered. 
'Wherein is it blessed?' inquired he. 'Because it was not 
submerged by the Flood/ Now R. Jonathan momentarily 
forgot the teaching [on the subject], but his ass-driver said 
to him, 'Rabbi, with your permission I will answer him/ 
'Do/ said he. 'If it is of the high mountains/ he answered, 
'then it is written, And all the high mountains 
were covered. While if it is of the low ones, Scripture 
ignored it/ R. Jonathan immediately descended from his 
ass and made him [the driver] ride three miles and applied 
three verses to him : (i) There shall not be male or female 
barren among you, or among your cattle (Deut. vii, 14) — 
i.e. even among your cattle drivers 4 ; (ii) Rakkathek [E.V. 
'thy temples'] is like a pomegranate split open (S.S. iv, 3): 
even the emptiest (rekanim) among you are as full 
of answers as a pomegranate [is of seeds] ; and thus it is 
written, (iii) No weapon that is formed against thee shall 
prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in 
judgment thou shalt condemn (Isa. Liv, 17). 5 



1 I.e. it made very slow progress. 

2 V. supra, xxxi, 13, p. 247, n» 4 — i.e. it covered but a short distance. 
Mah. and E. J. reverse the interpretation. This and the preceding state- 
ment mean that at first, before the waters had risen to a considerable 
height, the ark remained as though grounded; but when they 'prevailed* 
it was lifted up and floated (E.J.). * Lit. 'the Palatine Hill' , a name 
given by the Samaritans to Mount Gerizim, which they held sacred. 

* Barren in a metaphorical sense — of learning. * Cf. infra, lxxxi, 3. 

255 



XXXII. Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

ii. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters 
prevail (vn, 20). R. Judah said: Fifteen cubits over the 
mountains and fifteen cubits over the plains. 1 R. Nehemiah 
said : Fifteen cubits over the mountains, but over the plains, 
any height." 2 

And all the flesh perished . . . all in 
whose nostrils was the breath of (nishmath) 
the spirit of (ruah) life, etc. (vn, 21 f.). R. 
Samuel the son-in-law of R. Hanina the colleague of the 
Rabbis said: Here the neshamah is made identical with 
ruah, whereas in an earlier passage the neshamah is 
identified with nefesh. How do we know that we should 
apply the teaching of each passage to the other? Because 
'life' is written in both places, proving that they are 
analogous. 3 

Whatsoever was in the dry land, died. This 
excludes fish. But some maintain that they too were in- 
cluded among those who were to be gathered into [the 
ark], but they fled to the Ocean [the Mediterranean]. 4 

And He blotted out every living substance 
. . . and Noah only (Ak) was left (vii, 23): Ak 
is a diminishing particle : he too coughed blood on account 
of the cold. 5 

1 The water thus reaching different levels — a miracle. 

* The water had one level, consequently one cannot gauge how high it 

was above the plains — Yoma 76a. 

s V. supra, xiv, ad fin. 

* Sanh. 108a. 

s I.e. even he was not left sound; cf. supra , xxx, 6. 



256 



[XXXIII. i 
Chapter XXXIII (NOACH) 
i. And God remembered Noah, and every 

LIVING THING, AND ALL THE CATTLE, etc. (VIII, l). 

Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God; Thy judg- 
ments are like the great deep; man and beast Thou preservest, 

Lord (Ps. xxxvi, 7). R. Ishmael interpreted: To the 
righteous who accepted the Torah which was revealed on 
the mountains of God Thou shewest righteousness [i.e. 
love] reaching unto the mountains of God; but as for the 
wicked, who did not accept the Torah which was revealed 
on the mountains of God, Thou dealest strictly with them, 
even to the great deep. R. Akiba said: He deals strictly 
with both, even to the great deep. He deals strictly with the 
righteous, calling them to account for the few wrongs which 
they commit in this w T orld, in order to lavish bliss upon 
and give them a goodly reward in the world to come ; He 
grants ease to the wicked and rewards them for the few 
good deeds which they have performed in this world in 
order to punish them in the future world. 1 

R. Levi said: It [Scripture] gives a simile for the 
righteous in their dwelling, and for the wicked in their 
dwelling. The righteous in their dwelling: / will feed them 
in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall 
their fold be (Ezek. xxxiv, 14). The wicked in their dwelling : 
In the day when he went down to the netherworld I caused the 
deep to mourn and cover itself for him (ib. xxxi, 15). R. Judah 
said: Hobalti (I brought) is written 2 : a lid for a vat is 
made not of gold or silver but of earthenware, which is the 
selfsame material. Thus the wicked are darkness, Gehenna 
is darkness, and the deep is darkness : hence I brought the 
wicked to Gehenna and covered them with the deep: 
let darkness cover darkness. 

R. Jonathan in R. Josiah's name transposed the verse: 
Thy righteousness [i.e. mercy] is above Thy judgments, 
just as the mountains of God are above the great deep : as 

1 Lev. R. xxvii, 1. * I.e. he'ebald (I caused to mourn) with a 
different punctuation reads hobalti. 

257 s 



XXXIII. l] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the mountains are endless, so are the righteous endless 1 ; 
and as the mountains press back the deep so that it should 
not ascend and inundate the world, so do the righteous 
press back punishment, lest it go forth and burn up the 
world; and as the mountains are sown and yield fruit, 
so do the deeds of the righteous yield fruit; and as the 
deep is unfathomable, so Is the punishment of the wicked 
unfathomable [i.e. immeasurable]. And as the deep cannot 
be sown to yield fruit, so the deeds of the wicked do not 
produce fruit, for if they produced fruit they would destroy 
the world. 

When R. Joshua b. Levi visited Rome he saw there 
pillars covered with tapestry, in winter so that they should 
not contract, and in summer that they should not split. 
As he was walking in the street, he espied a poor man 
wrapped in a mat — others say, in half an ass's pack-saddle. 
To those pillars he applied the verse, ' Thy righteousness is 
like the mighty mountains' — where Thou givest, Thou givest 
in abundance ; while to the poor man he applied the verse, 
'Thy judgments are like the great deep 7 — where Thou 
smitest, Thou smitest with force. 2 

Alexander of Macedon visited King Kazia beyond the 
dark mountains. 3 He came forth, offering him golden 
bread on a golden tray. * Do I then need your gold ? ' he 
demanded. 'Had you then nothing to eat in your own 
country that you have come here ? * he retorted. ' I came 
only because I wished to see how you dispense justice/ 
was the reply. As he sat with him a man came with a 
complaint against his neighbour. 'This man/ he stated, 
'sold me a dunghill and I found a treasure in it/ The buyer 
argued, 'I bought a dunghill only/ while the vendor 
maintained, *I sold the dunghill and all it contained/ 
Said he [the king] to one: 'Have you a son?' 'Yes/ replied 
he. 'And have you a daughter?' he asked the other, 'Yes/ 
was the answer. 'Then marry them and let the treasure 

1 I.e. their reward is endless; v. Lev. R. lac cit. 

* 'Rashi': Thou cuttest down. 

8 A legendary king, so called because he was thought to live at the end 

ifee%) of the world. — Apparently the African interior is meant. 

258 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIII. 1-2 

belong to both.' He noticed him [Alexander] sitting 
astonished, and asked him, 'Have I then not judged well?' 
'Yes/ he replied. 'Had this happened among you, how 
would you have judged ? ' ' I would have slain both and 
kept the treasure for myself.' 'Does rain descend in your 
country?' he asked. 'Yes.' 'Does the sun shine?' 'Yes.' 
' Have you small cattle [sheep and goats] ? ' 'Yes,' he replied. 
' By heaven ! 71 he exclaimed, ' it is not for your sake but for 
the sake of the cattle, as it is written, Man and beast Thou 
preservest, O Lord: Man for the sake of beast Thou 
preservest, O Lord.' 

R. Judah b. R. Simon referred the verse to Noah. The 
Holy One, blessed be He, said : ' The righteousness [mercy] 
which I showed to Noah in the ark I showed him nowhere 
save on the mighty mountains ' : as it is written, And the 
ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the 
month, upon the mountains of Ararat (Gen. vin, 8). 2 * Thy 
judgments are like the great deep ' ; the chastisement which 
I brought on his generation, I brought from nowhere else 
than the great deep, as it is written, on the same day were 
all the fountains of the great deep broken up (ib. vn, n). 
And when I remembered him, not him alone did I 
remember, but him and all that were with him in the Ark, 
as it is written, And God remembered Noah, and 

EVERY LIVING THING, etc. 

2. There was a little city (Eccl. ix, 14): this alludes to 
the world; And few men within it (ib.), to the generation of 
the Flood; And there came a great king against it, and 
besieged it (ib.) — to the Holy One, blessed be He; And built 
great bulwarks against it (ib.) — ambushes and snares. 3 
Now there was found in it a man poor and wise (ib. 15), viz. 

1 Lit. ' curse the man ! ' 

2 The meaning is apparently that God's mercy was manifest when the 
ark rested on these mountains. Yalkut reads : Thy righteousness to Noah 
was like the mighty mountains (in extent) ... as for the judgment which 
Thou didst mete out to his contemporaries, Thou didst deal severely 
with them even to the great deep. 

3 From which He could, as it were, attack the city. Jast. translates 
Craft and Guile — allegorical names of towers. 

259 



XXXIII- 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Noah; And he by his wisdom delivered the city (ib.) 7 as it is 
written, And he took of every clean beast, etc. (Gen. vxn, 
20). 1 Yet no man remembered that same poor man (Eccl. 
loc. cit): said the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Since none 
of you remember him, / will remember him': hence, 
And God remembered Noah, etc. 2 

3. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are 
over all His works (Ps. cxlv, 9). R. Joshua b. Levi trans- 
lated: The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies 
are over all, because they are His works. R. Samuel b. 
Nahman interpreted: The Lord is good to all, and His 
tender mercies are over all, for it is His nature to be com- 
passionate. 3 R. Joshua interpreted in R. Levi's name: The 
Lord is good to all, and He inspires mankind with His 
[spirit of] compassion. R. Abba said: Should a year of 
famine commence to-morrow and men show compassion 
to each other, then the Holy One, blessed be He, will also 
be filled with compassion for them. 

In the days of R. Tanhuma Israel had need of a fast, 4 
so they went to him and requested: 'Master, proclaim a 
fast.' He proclaimed a fast, for one day, then a second day, 
and then a third, yet no rain fell. Thereupon he ascended 
[the pulpit] and preached to them, saying: 'My sons! 
Be filled with compassion for each other, and then the 
Holy One, blessed be He, will be filled with compassion 
for you.* Now while they were distributing relief to the 
poor they saw a man give money to his divorced wife, 
whereupon they went to him [R. Tanhuma] and exclaimed, 
'Why do we sit here while such misdeeds are perpetrated ! ' 
'What then have you seen?' he inquired. 'We saw So-and- 
so give his divorced wife money/ He summoned them and 
asked him, 'Why did you give money to your divorced 
wife?* 'I saw her in great distress/ replied he, 'and was 

1 He saved the world by sacrificing to God (cf. supra, xxvi, 1). Tanhuma, 

however, reads: Come thou and all thy house into the ark (Gen. VII, 1), 

which seems preferable. 2 Eccl. R. ix, 14, 15, §1. 

s Interpreting His works as the manner in which He rules. 

4 On account of drought. 

260 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIII. 3 

filled with compassion for her/ Upon this R. Tanhuma 
turned his face upward and exclaimed: 'Sovereign of the 
Universe! This man, upon whom this woman has no claim 
for sustenance, yet saw her in distress and was filled with 
pity for her. Seeing then that of Thee it is written, The Lord 
is full of compassion and gracious (Ps. cm, 8), while we are 
Thy children, the children of Thy beloved ones, the 
children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how much the 
more shouldst Thou be filled with compassion for us!' 
Immediately the rain descended and the world enjoyed 
relief. 1 

Our Teacher 2 was sitting and studying the Torah in 
front of the Babylonian Synagogue in Sepphoris, when a 
calf passed before him on its way to the slaughter and 
began to cry out, as though pleading, 'Save me!' Said he 
to it, 'What can I do for you? for this you were fashioned/ 
[As a punishment for his heartlessness] our Teacher 
suffered toothache for thirteen years. During these thirteen 
years no woman miscarried in Eretz Israel, and none 
suffered pain in childbirth. 3 After this period a creeping 
thing ran past his daughter. She was about to kill it, when 
he said to her, 'My daughter, let it be, for it is written, 
And His tender mercies are over all his works J ^ 

Our Teacher was very modest, and he used to say, T am 
prepared to do whatever any person tells me, except what 
the Family of Bathyra did for my ancestor [Hillel], for they 
relinquished their high office and promoted him. 5 And if 
R. Huna, the Resh Galutha, were to come up here 
[Palestine], I would rise before him, for he is descended 
from Judah, whereas I am from Benjamin; he is descended 
on the male side, while I am descended [from Judah] on 
the female side/ 6 Said R. Hiyya the Elder to him, 'Behold, 
he has comeP At this Rabbi's face turned pale. 'His 



1 Lev. R. xxxiv, 14. 2 Viz. R. Judah ha-Nasi. 

8 Because the sufferings of the righteous protect their generation. 

4 Cf. B.M. 85a. 

5 For the story of Hillel's rise to greatness, v. Pes. 66a. 

8 I am descended from Judah on the female side only. It is not mentioned 
elsewhere that he was not descended through the male side. 



XXXIII. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

coffin has come/ he added. 'Go and see who wants you 
without/ he ordered. He went out and found no one, where- 
upon he treated himself as banned for thirty days. 1 R. 
Jose [Assi] remarked: During these thirty days of his 
excommunication he taught Rab, his sister's son, all the 
[exegetical] principles of the Torah, while he [Rab] taught 
him the laws 2 of the Babylonians. 3 At the end of the thirty 
days Elijah, of blessed memory, came before Rabbi disguised 
as R. Hiyya the Elder, 4 laid his hand upon his teeth, and 
cured him. When R. Hiyya subsequently visited Rabbi 
he asked him, 'How is your tooth?' 'Since you laid your 
hand upon it it is cured/ he answered. 'I know nothing 
about it/ said he. On hearing this Rabbi showed him 
honour and set him on the inner [bench]. 5 Said R. Ishmael 
b. R. Jose to him, 'Even before me?' 'Heaven forfend/ 
replied he, 'let such a thing not be done in Israel!' 6 

Our Teacher was singing the praises of R. Hiyya the 
Elder to R. Ishmael b. R. Jose. Said he [R. Ishmael b. 
R. Jose] to him: ' One day I saw him [R. Hiyya the Elder] 
at the baths but he did not make an obeisance before me.' 
'Why did you not bow before him? 1 inquired he [our 
Teacher]. ' I was meditating on an Aggadah of the Psalms/ 
he answered. On hearing this he gave him two disciples 
who used to go in with him to the vapour room, lest he 
should stay too long there and become enfeebled. 7 

Another interpretation: ' The Lord is good to all, and His 
tender mercies are over all His works.' As it is written, 
And God remembered Noah, etc. 

And Elohim (God) remembered Noah. R. 
Samuel b. Nahman said: Woe to the wicked who turn the 
Attribute of Mercy into the Attribute of Judgment. 
Wherever the Tetragrammaton ['Lord'] is employed it 

1 He understood this to be Rabbi's meaning. 

2 Perhaps: guiding principles of exegesis. 3 Rab being a Babylonian. 

* Elijah was thought to visit men quite frequently. 

5 Nearest to Rabbi — this was a special mark of honour. 

• I do not promote him at your expense. 

7 Meditating on sacred subjects in the baths is forbidden. Hence he 
assumed that he was given to absent-mindedness, in the course of which 
he might stay too long in the vapour room. Cf. I£id. 33a. 

262 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIII. 3-4 

connotes the Attribute of Mercy, as in the verse, The 
Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious (Ex. xxxiv, 6), 
yet it is written, And the Lord saw that the wickedness of 
man was great (Gen. vi, 5), And it repented the Lord that 
he had made man (ib. 6), And the Lord said; I will blot 
out man {ib. 7). Happy are the righteous who turn the 
Attribute of Judgment into the Attribute of Mercy. 
Wherever Elohim (God) is employed it connotes the Attri- 
bute of Judgment: Thus: Thou shalt not revile Elohim — 
God (Ex. xxii, 27) ; the cause of both parties shall come before 
Elohim — God (ib. 8) ; yet it is written, And Elohim heard 
their groaning, and Elohim remembered His covenant (ib. 
11, 24); And Elohim remembered Rachel (Gen. xxx, 22); 
And Elohim remembered Noah. 1 

What did He remember in his favour ? 2 That he provided 
for [the animals] the whole twelve months in the Ark, 
hence And God remembered Noah, and the spirit 
of justice approves it, 3 for the sake of the clean animals 
that were with him in the Ark. R. Leazar said: He was 
called [Noah] on account of his sacrifice, as it is written, 
And the Lord smelled the sweet (nihoah) savour (Gen. viii, 
21). R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: On account of the resting 
of the Ark, as it is written, And the ark rested — wattanah 
(ib. 4). R. Johanan said: The planets did not function 
the whole twelve months. Said R. Jonathan to him, They 
did function, but their mark was imperceptible. R. Liezer 
said : They shall not cease (ib. 22) implies that they never 
ceased. R. Joshua deduced : * They shall not cease ' : hence 
it follows that they had ceased. 4 

4. The fountains also of the deep and the 
windows of heaven were stopped (viii, 2). r. 
Leazar said : In connection with punishment it is written, 

1 Thus in the former case the wicked made the Lord decree punishment, 
while in the latter Elohim showed mercy. Cf. supra, xn, 15. 

2 Since there is no forgetfulness before Him, the Midrash assumes that 
the verse implies that He bore in mind something in his (Noah's) favour. 
z I.e. Elohim, which connotes justice, approved Noah's actions. 

4 V. supra, xxv, 2, for notes. 

263 



XXXIII. 4-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

On the same day were all the fountains of the great deep 
broken up (ib. vn, 11); but in connection with good it is 
written, The fountains also of the deep . . . 
were stopped, but not all the fountains, the exceptions 
being the great well [of Biram], the gulf [of Gaddor], and 
the cavern spring of Paneas. 1 

And the ark rested in the seventh month 
. . . upon the mountains of Ararat (viii, 4): 
i.e. upon the mountain range Cordyene. 2 

5. And it came to pass at the end of forty 
days, that Noah opened the halon [E.V. 
'window'] of the ark (viii, 6). This supports the 
view that it w y as a window [trapdoor]. 3 

And he sent forth a raven (viii, 7): thus it is 
written, He sent darkness, and it was dark (Ps. cv, 28). 4 

And it went forth to and fro (yazo wa- 
sh ob). R. Judan said in the name of R. Judah b. R. 
Simon: It began arguing with him 5 : 'Of all the birds that 
thou hast here thou sendest none but me!' 'What need 
then has the world of thee ? ' he retorted ; ' for food ? for 
a sacrifice?' 6 R. Berekiah said in R. Abba's name: The 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to him [Noah]: 'Take it 
back, because the world will need it in the future/ ' When ? ' 
he asked. ' When the waters dry off from off the earth 3 (ib.). 
He replied: 'A righteous man will arise and dry up the 
world, 7 and I will cause him to have need of them [the 

1 V. Sanh. 108a (Sonc. ed.), p. 740, n. 8; the bracketed additions are in 

accordance with the reading there, Th. ad loc. identifying the first two 
mentioned here with the two quoted from there. The hot springs of 
Tiberias are omitted, as only the strongest springs are mentioned, the 
cavern spring of Paneas being substituted. The last named is a city in 
the north of Palestine 0ast. : Csesarea Philippi, modern Baneas) whence 
the Jordan issues. 
S A district E. of the Tigris and S. of Armenia. 3 V. supra, xxxi, 11. 

* Translating: He (Noah) sent darkness, viz. the raven, which is dark- 
hued, and the raven found it dark — i.e. without light or hope, and so 
returned. 

* Lit. * giving him answers, refutations '. 'Wa-shob' (returning) is con- 
nected by a play on words with hasheb, the hifil form, * to answer.' 

8 You are fit for neither. Cf. Sanh. 1086. 

7 Viz. Elijah, who threatened drought, and the threat was fulfilled. 

264 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIII. 5-6 

ravens]/ as it is written, And the ravens ('orbim) brought 
him bread and flesh, etc. (1 Kings xvn, 6). R. Judah said: 
It refers to a town within the borders of Bashan called 
Arbo. 1 R. Nehemiah said: Ravens literally are meant, 
and whence did they bring him [food] ? From Jehoshaphat's 
table. 2 

R. Akiba preached in Ginzak 3 on the theme of the Flood, 
and the audience did not weep, but when he mentioned 
the story of the raven they w T ept. 4 He then quoted this 
verse : The womb (rehem) forgetteth htm ; the worm feedeth 
sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered ; and un- 
righteousness is broken as a tree (Job xxiv, 20). 'Rehem 
forgetteth ' : They [the generation of the Flood] forgot to 
be merciful to their fellow men, 5 therefore the Holy One, 
blessed be He, made His mercy forget them. ' The worm 
feedeth sweetly on him * : the worm became sweet through 
[feeding on] them. 6 ' He shall be no more remembered, 
and unrighteousness is broken as a tree ' ; R. Aibu said : It is 
not written, ' is uprooted, ' but ' is broken ' : i.e. like some- 
thing which is broken, yet produces another stock in 
exchange ; and to what does that allude ? To the generation 
of the Separation [of races]. 7 

6. AND HE SENT FORTH A DOVE. . . BUTTHE 

dove found no rest, etc. (viii, 8 f.) : R. Judah b. 
Nahman said in the name of Resh Lakish: Had it found 
a place of rest, it would not have returned. Similarly, She 
dwelleth among the nations, she findeth no rest (Lam. 1, 3) : 
but had she [the nation] found rest, they would not have 
returned [to God]. Again, And among these nations shalt 
thou have no repose, and there shall be no rest for the sole 

1 Th. conjectures that it is El Arbain in Transjordania. R. Judah main- 
tains that the citizens of this town were called Orbim, and it was they 
who supplied Elijah with food. 2 Lev. R. xrx, 1 ; Sanh. 1 13a; Hul. 5a. 
8 A city in the North of Media Atropatene; v. Neub. Geogr. t p. 375. 

4 Probably what is related at the beginning of this section, viz. that the 
raven would be required one day. They wept at God's marvellous 
foresight. The reading 'Job* of cur. edd. is obviously out of place. 

5 Rehem is translated mercy, from rahem, to be merciful : he forgetteth 
to be merciful. 6 This corresponds to E.V. 

7 Which succeeded the generation of the Flood in wickedness. 

265 



XXXIII. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of thy foot (Dent, xxvm, 65) : but had they found it, they 
would not have returned. 1 

And he stayed yet another seven days (viii, 
10 ff .). R. Jose b. R. Hanina said : There were three periods 
of seven days in all. 2 

And again he sent forth the dove . . . and 
the dove came in to him . . . and lo in her 
mouth an olive-leaf freshly plucked (taraf). 
What does taraf mean? Killed [slain], as you read, 
Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces — tarof toraf (Gen. 
xxxvii, 33). He said to her: 'Had you left it, it would have 
grown into a great tree/ 3 

Whence did she bring it? R. Abba said: She brought it 
from the young shoots of Eretz Israel. R. Levi said: She 
brought it from the Mount of Olives, for Eretz Israel was 
not submerged by the Flood. Thus the Holy One, blessed 
be He, said to Ezekiel : Son of man, say unto her : Thou art 
a land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of 
indignation (Ezek. xxn, 24). R. Birai 4 said: The gates of the 
Garden of Eden were opened for her, and from there she 
brought it. Said R. Abbahu : Had she brought it from the 
Garden of Eden, should she have not brought something 
better, e.g. cinnamon or the balsam leaf? But in fact she 
gave him a hint, saying to him [in effect] : ' Noah, better is 
bitterness from this source [God], than sweetness from 
your hand.' 5 

AND HE STAYED YET OTHER SEVEN DAYS, etc. 

(viii, 12 ff.). This supports what R. Jose b. R. Hanina 
said: [He waited] three seven-day periods in all. 

7. AND HE SENT FORTH THE DOVE, AND SHE 
RETURNED NOT AGAIN TO HIM ANYMORE, ANDIT 
CAME TO PASS IN THE SIX HUNDRED AND FIRST 



1 Lam. R. 1, 3,3 29. 

s Two as stated in w. 10 and 12, while Yet other seven 

days implies that he had already waited this period before, between 

the return of the raven and the sending forth of the dove. 

% Thus she 'killed* its potentialities. Lev. R. xxxi end; Zeb. 113a. 

4 In Lev. R. ad loc. the reading is: R. Berekiah. * S anh . 1086, 

266 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIII. J 

YEAR, IN THE FIRST MONTH, THE FIRST DAY OF 

the month. We learned: The judgment of the genera- 
tion of the Flood lasted twelve months. 1 How Is this 
deduced? (i) In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the 
second month, on the seventeenth day of the month . . . the 
windows of heaven were opened (Gen. vn, u); and it is 
written, (ii) And the rain was upon the earth forty days and 
forty nights (ib. 12): this embraces the rest of Marheshwan 
and Kislew; (iii) And the waters prevailed upon the earth 
a hundred and fifty days (ib. 24) : this covers Tebeth, Shebat, 
Adar, Nisan, and lyar ; (iv) And the ark rested in the seventh 
months on the seventeenth day, upon the mountains of Ararat 
(ib. viii, 4) : that means Siwan, the seventh month from the 
descent of the rain. For sixteen days the water diminished 
at the rate of a cubit per four days, which is one and a 
half handbreadths per day. You may thus infer that the 
Ark was eleven cubits in the water, and it all drained off 
in sixty days. Thus you read, And the waters decreased 
continually until the tenth month (ib. 5) : that is Ab, the tenth 
from the descent of the rain. 2 Another interpretation 3 : 
(v) And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, 
in the first month [i.e. Tishri], on the first day of the month, 
the waters were dried up from off the earth (ib. viii, 13) 4 : 

1 Supra, xxvnr, 9. 

2 From the descent of the rain means from the beginning of the Flood. 
Thus from 17th Marheshwan to 17th lyar is seven months, while from 
Marheshwan to Ab inclusive is ten months. According to a different 
reading, however (which Rashi has adopted in his commentary on the 
Bible), the seventh month means from the end of the Flood, while the 
tenth is from the beginning. The calculation is the same, only we reckon 
from Kislew to Siwan inclusive. 

3 Var. lee: and it is written. This is perhaps preferable, since the verse 
that follows completes the calculation (v. next note). 

* The verses are explained according to R. Eliezer's view (supra, xxii, 4) 
that the world was created in Tishri, the seventh month, so that the 
second month mentioned is Marheshwan. Commencing then on the 17th 
of Marheshwan, the forty days ended on the 27th of Kislew; the next 
150 days thus included the rest of Kislew and the whole of Tebeth — 
lyar (thus: 3 days in Kislew, and Tebeth (29) and Shebat— lyar (118)— 
150). Then on the 1st of Siwan, the water began to abate, and the 15 cubits 
by which it had covered the mountains (Gen. vn, 20) was completely 
gone by the beginning of Ab, i.e. in 60 days; thus it abated at the rate 
of one cubit in four days. By the seventeenth of the month Siwan there- 

267 



XXXIII. 7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

It became like a marsh. 1 (vi) And in the second month, on the 
seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dry 
(ib. vin, 14) : it became like parched soil, which they sowed, 
but nothing would grow. Why w r as that? Because it [the 
Flood] had come as a curse, and a curse cannot turn into 
a blessing 2 ; so they waited until the next rainfall and then 
they sowed. 

Now should not Scripture have said, 'On the sixteenth 
day of the month was the earth dry ' 2 : why then is it stated, 
'And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day 
of the month, was the earth dry ' ? Because of the eleven days 
by which the solar year exceeds the lunar year. 4 R, Simeon 
b. Gamaliel said : If you wish to prove for yourself that the 
solar year exceeds the lunar year by eleven days, make a 
mark on a wall on the day of the summer solstice; the 
following year at that season the sun will not reach it 
until eleven days later, and from this you may know that 
the solar year exceeds the lunar year by eleven days. 

fore it had abated four cubits, and then the Ark rested on the mountain, 
so that it was sunk 11 cubits in the water. Now from the 1st of Ab until 
the 1st of Tishri, by which time the earth was dry (ib. vin, 13), is a period 
of 60 days. Noah had waited 40 days after the tops of the mountains 
appeared (ib. 6) before sending out the dove; hence three seven-day 
periods -were spent in sending out the birds, and this supports R. Jose 
b. R. Hanina. 

1 Lit. * like oozing soil * — exuding enough water to moisten other objects. 
8 Therefore the water of the Flood disappeared completely, leaving the 
soil absolutely arid. 

8 Since the punishment of the generation of the Flood lasted twelve 
months, and the Flood commenced on the seventeenth day of the month 
in the previous year. 

* The twelve months of punishment mean a solar year of 365 days, 
whereas the Jewish year is lunar, and consists of 354 days (to make up the 
deficiency extra months are intercalated at intervals;. 



268 



[XXXIV. i-2 

Chapter XXXIV (NOACH) 

i. And God spoke unto Noah, saying: go 
forth from the ark, ttc. (vni, 1 5 £.). It is written, 
Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks unto 
Thy name; the righteous shall crown themselves because of 
me; for Thou wilt deal bountifully with me (Ps. cxlii, 8). 
"Bring my soul out of prison' alludes to Noah, who was 
imprisoned twelve months in the Ark ; ' That I may give 
thanks unto Thy name': to give thanks to Thine [awe- 
inspiring] name ; ' The righteous shall crown themselves 
because of me': the righteous shall glory in me. 1 ' For Thou 
wilt deal bountifully with me ' : Thou didst deal bountifully 
with me and say unto me : Go forth from the 
ark. 

2. The Lord trieth the righteous, etc. (Ps. xi, 5). R. 
Jonathan said: A potter does not test defective vessels, 
because he cannot give them a single blow without breaking 
them. Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, does not 
test the wicked but only the righteous : thus, ' The Lord 
trieth the righteous J R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: When a 
flax worker knows that his flax is of good quality, the more 
he beats it the more it improves and the more it glistens ; 
but if it is of inferior quality, he cannot give it one knock 
but it splits. Similarly, the Lord does not test the wicked 
but only the righteous, as it says: ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous.' R. Eleazar said: When a man possesses two cows, 
one strong and the other feeble, upon which does he put 
the yoke ? Surely upon the strong one. Similarly, the Lord 
tests none but the righteous ; hence, ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous.' Another interpretation: ' The Lord trieth the 
righteous' applies to Noah [who stayed in the Ark until 
God said to him]: Go forth from the ark. 2 

1 These last two interpretations or translations seem to be a quotation 
from some Targum (Th.). The E.V. actually covers them. 

2 Mah. : He remained in the Ark even after the earth became dry until 
he received God's command to leave it. Supra, xxxu, 3. 

269 



XXXIV. 3-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

3. R. Judan commenced in Aibu's name: In the trans- 
gression of the lips is a snare to the evil man (Prov. xn, 13): 
through the rebellion of the generation of the Flood against 
the Holy One, blessed be He, they were brought to grief. 
But the righteous cometh out of trouble (ih.) : this applies to 
Noah: hence, Go forth from the ark. 1 

4. If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not 
thy place (Eccl. x, 4). This refers to Noah. Noah argued: 
Just as I entered the Ark only when I was permitted, so 
may I not go out save with permission. R. Judah b. R. 
Ilai said : Had I been there I would have broken it and gone 
out! Noah, however, said: I entered with permission and 
I will leave with permission. Thus : Come thou into the ark — 
And Noah went in; Go forth from the Ark — And Noah 
went forth. 

5. Wisdom is a stronghold to the wise man more than ten 
rulers (Eccl. vii, 19): this alludes to Noah [to whom God 
said] : ' Of the ten generations from Adam to Noah I spoke 
with none but thee': hence, And God spoke unto 
Noah, saying. 

6. To everything there is a season, and a time to every 
purpose (Eccl. in, 1) : there was a time for Noah to enter 
the ark, as it is written, Come thou and all thy house into 
the ark (Gen. vii, 1), and a time for him to leave it : Go 
forth from the ark. 

Go forth from the ark. He may be compared 
to an administrator who departed for a certain spot, 
putting someone in his place. On his return he said to the 
other, 'Leave your position/ 2 But he [Noah] was reluctant 
to go out, saying, 'Am I to go out and beget children for a 
curse?* 3 Until the Holy One, blessed be He, swore to him 

1 Cf. infra, lxvii, ad fin, 

2 Similarly, for twelve months Noah was in charge of the only creatures 
that were destined to live, and thus acted, as it were, as God's regent. 
Now he was to leave this exalted position. 

s Sexual intercourse had been forbidden in the Ark but was now 
permitted, as stated infra and also supra, xxxi, 12. 

270 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. 6-8 

that He would not bring another Flood upon the world, 
as it says, For this is the waters of Noah unto Me; for as I 
have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over 
the earthy etc. (Isa. liv, 9) : thou wilt indeed be fruitful 
and multiply. 

7. Thou, and thy wife, etc. R. Judah b. R. 
Simon and R. Ilanan in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac 
said: As soon as Noah entered the Ark, cohabitation was 
forbidden to him, hence it is written, And thou shalt come 
into the ark, thou, and thy sons (Gen. vi, 18) — apart; 
And thy wife, and thy sons' wives — apart. When he went 
out, He permitted it to him, as it is written, Go 

FORTH FROM THE ARK, THOU AND THY WIFE. R. 

Abin quoted: They are lonely in want and famine (Job xxx, 
3) : when want and famine visit the world, regard your wife 
as^ though she were lonely [i.e. menstruous]. R. Huna 
said : It is written. And unto Joseph were horn two sons (Gen. 
xli, 50) : when? Before the year of famine came (ib»). 1 

8. Bring forth (hayyeze) with thee every 

LIVING THING THAT IS WITH THEE . . . THAT 
THEY MAY SWARM IN THE EARTH (VIII, 18). R. Judan 

said: Hozze is written, but it is read hayyeze 2 ; That 

THEY MAY SWARM IN THE EARTH— but not in the 

Ark; And be fruitful and multiply upon the 
earth — but not in the Ark. 
Every beast, every creeping thing, and 

EVERY FOWL, WHATSOEVER MOVETH (KOL ROMES) 

upon the earth (vin, 19). R. Aibu said: Kol 
romes is written fully. 3 After their families: this 
forbade heterogeneous breeding and emasculation. 

1 V. supra, xxxi, 12; Sanh. 1086. 

2 Th. and Man. : possibly no particular significance attaches to this, R. 
Judan merely recording the fact. Rashi on the Pentateuch comments: 
Hayyeze implies: order them out; if they refuse to go, then hozze: 
put them out — forcibly. 

3 Viz. uzy\ not Ben. Here too there may he no particular significance 
in this. Possibly, however, it is from this full form that the prohibition 
of castration is presently deduced, the full form implying that the animal 
must be complete. 

271 



XXXIV. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

The children of Noah were enjoined concerning seven 
things : Idolatry, incest, murder, cursing the Divine Name 
[blasphemy], civil law, 1 and a limb torn from a living 
animal. 2 R. Hanina said: Also concerning blood from a 
living animal. R. Leazar said : Also against cross-breeding. 
R. Simeon said: Also against witchcraft. R. Johanan said: 
Also against emasculation. R. Issi [Assi] said: The children 
of Noah were enjoined concerning everything stated in the 
following passage : There shall not be found among you any 
one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, 
etc. (Dent, xvm, io). 3 

9. And Noah builded (wayyiben) an altar 
unto the Lord (viii, 20). Wayyaben (he understood) 
is written 4 : he considered the matter, reasoning : For what 
reason did the Holy One, blessed be He, order more clean 
animals [to be preserved] than unclean? Surely because 
He desired that sacrifices should be offered to Him of them. 
Straightway, And took of every clean beast, etc. 5 

And he offered burnt-offerings on the 
altar. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: That means on the great 
altar in Jerusalem, where Adam sacrificed, as it is written, 
And it shall please the Lord better than a bullock that hath 
horns and hoofs (Ps. lxix, 32).® 

And the Lord shelled the sweet savour. R. 
Eleazar and R. Jose b. R. Hanina differ. R. Eleazar said: 
The children of Noah brought [even] peace-offerings; 
R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: They offered burnt-offerings 
[only]. R. Eleazar sought to refute R. Jose b. R. Hanina: 
But it is written, And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings 
of his flock and of the fat thereof (Gen. iv, 4), implying that 
of which the fat is offered. How did R. Jose b. R. Hanina 
answer him? It means, of the fat ones [i.e. the best]. R. 
Eleazar sought to refute R. Jose b. R. Hanina: But it is 
written, And he sent the young men of the children of Israel, 

2 Or possibly: obedience to the civil authorities. 2 Forbidding it. 
8 V. supra, xvi, 6. 4 I.e. the word can be so read. 
5 V. supra, xxvi, i. 8 V. 'A.Z. 8a, where this is referred to Adam. 

This interpretation is based on the def . art. The altar. 

272 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. 9 

who offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings 
(shelamim) unto the Lord (Ex. xxiv, 5) ? How does R. Jose 
b. R. fjanina explain this? It means that they were whole 
(shelemim) in their hide, not having been flayed or cut up. 
R. Eleazar objected to R. Jose b. R. Hanina: But it is 
written, And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt- 
offering and sacrifices (ib. xvm, 12)? How does R. Jose b. 
R. IJanina explain this ? In accordance with the view that 
Jethro came after Revelation. R. Huna said: R. Jannai 
and R. Hiyya the Elder differ in this: R. Jannai said: 
Jethro came before Revelation; R. IJiyya the Elder said: 
Jethro came after Revelation. R. Hanina observed: Yet 
they do not differ [in an independent controversy] : He who 
says that Jethro came before Revelation holds that the 
children of Noah might offer peace-offerings ; while he who 
says that Jethro came after Revelation holds that they might 
offer burnt-offerings [only]. The following supports R. 
Jose b. R. Hanina: Awake, O north wind (S.S. iv, 16) : 
this alludes to the burnt-offering, which was killed at the 
north [side of the altar]. To what does e awake' apply? 
To something which was asleep and now awakes. And come, 
thou south (ib.) alludes to peace-offerings, which were 
killed [even] at the south [side of the altar]. To what does 
'come' apply? To a new practice. R. Joshua of Siknin said 
in R. Levi's name: This verse too supports R. Jose b. R. 
rlanina : This is the law of the burnt-offering : that is the 
burnt-offering (Lev. vi, 2)— viz. which the Noachides 
used to offer. But when it treats of peace-offerings, viz. 
And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings (ib. 
vii, 11), it is not written, 'which they offered,' but, which 
they will offer (ib.) — in the future. 1 

And the Lord smelled the sweet savour. He 
smelled the savour of the Patriarch Abraham ascending 
from the fiery furnace 2 ; He smelled the savour of Hananiah, 
Mishael and Azariah ascending from the fiery furnace. 
This may be compared to a king's friend, who, to pay his 
respects, sent the king a fine gift, viz. some excellent 

1 V. the whole passage supra, xxn, 5. 2 V. infra, sxxvin, 13. 

273 T 



XXXIV. 9~ 10 ] MIDRASH RABBAH 

brisket on a beautiful plate. 1 Then his son came and did 
not show him honour. Then his grandson came and showed 
him honour; whereupon he [the king] said to him, 'Your 
gift is like your grandfather's/ 2 He smelled the savour of 
the generation of destruction. 3 R. Shilum said in the name 
of R. Menahama b. R. Ze'ira: Imagine a king who wished 
to build a palace by the sea, but did not know where to 
build it. Finding a phial of foliatum, he followed its scent 
and built it there. 4 Thus it is written, For He hath founded it 
upon the seas (Ps. xxiv, 2) : for whose sake ? For the sake of 
[those of whom it is written], Such is the generation of them 
that seek after Him, that seek Thy face, even Jacob, Selah 
(tb. 6). 5 

10. And the Lord said to his heart. The 
wicked stand in subjection to their heart [i.e. passions. 
Thus it says], The fool hath said in his heart (Ps. xiv, 1); 
And Esau said in his heart (Gen. xxvn, 41); And Jeroboam 
said in his heart (1 Kings xn, 25) ; Now Haman said in his 
heart (Est. vi, 6). But the righteous have their hearts under 
their control; hence it is written, Now Hannah, she spoke 
at her heart (1 Sam. I, 13) ; And David said to his heart (ib. 
xxvil, 1) ; But Daniel purposed to his heart (Dan. I, 8) ; 
And the Lord said to his heart. 6 

I will not again curse the ground, etc. : Let 
that indeed suffice. The Rabbis interpreted : I will 
not again curse — the children of Noah; Neither 
will I again smite, etc. — future generations. 7 

For the imagination of man's heart is 
evil. R. IJiyya the Elder said: How wretched must be 

1 Or possibly: the gift being a beautiful salver, v. Th. 

2 Similarly Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah made the same sacrifice 
as Abraham in order to sanctify God's name. 

s The generation of the abortive and disastrous revolt of Bar Cochba, 
which after being crushed was followed by tremendous slaughter. 
4 The phial was in the ground ; the king traced it to its exact spot and 
made that the site for his palace (' Rashi '). 5 Cf. Ex. R. xv, 7. 
s The prepositions in these verses are translated literally, and thus imply 
that the wicked speak in (subjection to) their hearts, while the righteous 
speak to their hearts, giving them orders, as it were. Infra, lxvii, 8. 
7 V. supra, xxvi. 6. 

274 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. IO-II 

the dough when the baker himself testifies It to be poor! 
[Thus man's Creator says] For the imagination 
of man's heart is evil. Abba Jose the potter said: 
How poor must be the leaven when he who kneaded it 
testifies that it is bad! Thus: For he knoweth our [evil] 
passions [E.V. 'frame'], He rememheretk that we are dust 
(Ps. cm, 14). 1 The Rabbis said: How inferior must be the 
plant when he that planted it testifies that it is bad ; thus, 
For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath spoken evil of 
thee (Jer. xi, 17). 2 

Antoninus asked our Teacher 3 : 'When is the evil urge 
placed in man?' f As soon as he is formed [in embryo]/ 
he replied. 'If so/ he objected, 'he would dig through 
the womb and emerge ; rather is it when he emerges [from 
the womb]/ Rabbi agreed with him, because his view 
corresponds with that of Scripture, viz. For the 

IMAGINATION OF MAN'S HEART IS EVIL FROM HIS 

youth (mine'uraw). R. Judan said: This is written 
mine'araw (from his awakening), which means, from when 
he awakes to the world. He asked him further: 'When is 
the soul planted in man?' 'When he leaves his mother's 
womb/ replied he. ' Leave meat without salt for three days/ 
said he, 'will it not putrefy? 4 Rather, when his destiny is 
determined/ 5 Our Teacher agreed with him, for Scripture 
too supports him: All the while my soul [E.V. 'breath'] is 
in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils (Job xxvii, 3), 
while it is written, And Thy Providence hath preserved My 
spirit (ib. x, 12): hence, when didst Thou place the soul 
in me ? When Thou didst determine my fate. 6 

11. While the earth remaineth, seedtime 
and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer 
and winter, and day and night shall not 
cease (viii, 22). R. Judan said in R. Aha's name : What did 

1 Leaven is a common simile for the evil passions (cf. Ber. 17a). 

2 Num. R. xiii, 4; cf. I£id. 30&. 

8 Viz. R. Judah ha-Nasi. For the identity of Antoninus v. infra, lxvii, 6, 
p. 611, n. 2. * Similarly the foetus would putrefy without a soul. 
5 When, in accordance with Rabbinic lore, the destiny (to be rich or 
poor, wise or foolish) of the foetus is determined. 6 Sanh. 916. 

275 



XXXIV. Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the children of Noah think : that the covenant made with 
them would endure to all eternity? 1 That is not so, but 
only as long as the heaven and earth endure will their 
covenant endure. 2 But when that day cometh, of which it is 
written, For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and 
the earth shall be worn out like a garment (Isa. Li, 6), then 
[shall the verse be fulfilled], And it [sc. the covenant] 
will he broken in that day (Zech. xi, n). 

R. Aha commented: What was responsible for their 
rebelling against Me ? Was it not because they sowed but 
did not cut down, i.e. they gave birth but did not bury? 3 
Therefore henceforth there shall be Sowing and 
cutting down 4 : they shall bear and bury. Cold 
and heat: [they shall suffer] fever and ague. 
Summer (kayyiz) and winter (horef): I will 
cause the birds to summer upon them, 5 as you read, And 
the ravenous birds shall summer upon them, and all the beasts 
of the earth shall winter upon them (Isa. xviii, 6). It once 
happened that one of the great men of his time — some say 
that it was R. Samuel b. Nahman — was suffering with 
headache, and he lamented: This is what the generation 
of the Flood did for us ! 6 

Another interpretation of While the earth 
remaineth, etc. : R. Huna said in R. Aha's name : What 
do the children of Noah think: that the covenant made 
with them will endure to all eternity? [No, for] thus said 
I to them: While the earth remaineth. But as 
long as day and night endure, their covenant will endure. 
Yet when that day cometh of which it is written, And there 
shall be one day which shall be known as the Lord's, not day, 
ana not night (Zech. xiv, 7), at that time [shall be fulfilled 
the verse], "And it will be broken in that day' 

R. Isaac commented: What was responsible for their 



1 The covenant of the previous verse: Neither zvill I again smite any more 
every living thing. * Reading the two verses together : Neither will I 

again smite . . . while the earth remaineth. a I.e. none ever died young 
* Lit. translation of the verse. 5 From the context this appears to 

mean that they would be exposed to the depredations of birds. 
8 He too understood Heat to mean a high temperature. 



276 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. 11-12 

rebelling against Me? Was it not because they sowed 
without having to reap? 1 For R. Isaac said: They used to 
sow once in forty years, and they travelled from one end 
of the world to the other in a brief period, cutting down the 
cedars of Lebanon in their course, making no more of 
the lions and leopards than of the vermin in their skin. 2 

How is this to be understood? 3 They enjoyed the climate 
[now usual] between Passover and Pentecost [right through 
the year]. 4 

R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said in R. Meir's name, and R. 
Dosa too said thus: [The latter] half of Tishri, Marheshwan 
and the first half of Kislew is seedtime; the second half 
of Kislew, Tebeth and half of Shebat are the winter 
months; the second half of Shebat, Adar and the first 
half of Nisan are the cold season; the second half of Nisan, 
lyar and the first half of Siwan is harvest time; the second 
half of Siwan, Tammuz and the first half of Ab is summer; 
the second half of Ab, Elul and the first half of Tishri 
are the hot season. R. Judah counted from Marheshwan. 
R. Simeon commenced with [the beginning of] Tishri. 5 

R. Johanan said: The planets did not function the whole 
twelve months [of the Flood]. Said R. Jonathan to him: 
They did function, but their mark was imperceptible. R. 
Eliezer said: They shall not cease implies that 
they never ceased. R. Joshua deduced: They shall 
not cease: hence it follows that they had ceased. 6 

12. And God blessed Noah and his sons, and 
said unto them: Be fruitful and multiply 
(ix, i). This [blessing conferred] here was a reward for their 
sacrifice. 7 



1 Every year, a single harvest providing food for many years. 

* This is a picture, exaggerated of course, of the extreme ease of their 
lives, which led to over-confidence in themselves and rebellion against 
God. 

* This is a new passage. Since Scripture implies that henceforth there 
would be alternating seasons of cold and heat, how was the climate 
hitherto? 4 I.e. the weather of a mild spring or early summer. 

5 B.M. 1066. 6 V. supr^ xxv, 2. 

7 For the blessing itself had already been uttered (Gen. vin, 17). 

277 



xxxiv. 12-13] midrash rabbah 

And the fear of you and the dread of you 
(hitkem) shall be upon every beast of the 
earth (ix, 2): fear and dread returned, but dominion 
did not return. 1 When did it return? In the days of 
Solomon, as it is written, For he had dominion over all 
the region (1 Kings v, 4). 

It was taught, R. Simeon b. Eieazar said: For a live 
infant one day old the Sabbath is desecrated; for David 
king of Israel, dead, the Sabbath may not be desecrated. 
And thus too did R. Simeon b. Eieazar say: An infant one 
day old, alive, need not be guarded from mice or serpents 
to prevent them picking out his eyes : a lion sees him and 
flees, a serpent sees him and flees. Yet Og, King of Bashan, 
dead, must be guarded ! For as long as a man is alive his 
fear lies upon the [lower] creatures; when he dies, his 
fear is removed from the lower creatures. Thus it is written, 
And the fear of you and the life of you, etc. 2 

13. Every moving thing that liveth shall 
be for food for you . . . only flesh with the 
life thereof, which is the blood thereof, 
shall ye not eat (ix, 3 f.). R. Jose b. R. Abin said 
in R. Johanan's name: Adam, to whom flesh to satisfy 
his appetite was not permitted, 3 was not admonished 
against eating a limb torn from the living animal. 4 But the 
children of Noah, to whom flesh to satisfy their appetite 
was permitted, were admonished against eating a limb 
torn from the living animal. 5 

And surely (we-ak) your blood of your 
lives will I require (ix, 5). This includes one who 
strangles himself. 6 You might think that even one in the 

1 God's blessing to Adam conferred upon him * dominion ' over all 
creatures (Gen. I, 28 f) in addition to 'fear' and 'dread'; these prero- 
gatives were lost at the Flood, and * dominion ' is not enumerated in this 
verse which restores them. 

2 Reading HITKEM as hayyathkem (only a change of punctuation is 
required for this), your life — thus, your fear will only be co-eval with 
your life. Eccl. R.V., io, § 2; Shab. 1516. 

3 V. Gen. i, 29 f., where only plant life is permitted. 
* Since all flesh was forbidden. 5 Sanh. 59a, b. 

6 A suicide is punished. 

278 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. 13-14 

plight of Saul is meant 1 : therefore we have ak. 2 You 
might think, even one like Hananlah, Mishael and Azariah 3 : 
therefore we have a k . 

At the hand of every beast will I require 
it: this refers to the four kingdoms. 4 At the hand 
of man (ha-adam): R. Levi said: That means, from 
the hand of Edom. 5 Even at the hand of every 
man's brother, as it is written, Deliver me, I pray 
Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau 
(Gem xxxii, 12). 6 Will I require the life of 
MAN: this refers to Israel, as it is written, And ye My 
sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are men (Ezek. xxxiv,3i). 7 

14. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, etc. (ix, 6). 
R. Hanina said: All these are specifically Noachian laws, 
[viz. that a man is condemned] on the testimony of one 
witness, on the ruling of one judge, without a formal 
warning, [for murder committed] through an agent, and 
for [the murder of] an embryo. On the testimony of one 
witness and on the ruling of one judge, for it says, 
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by one man 
shall his blood be shed. 8 Without a formal 
warning, as it says, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, 
by man shall his blood be shed. 9 [He who com- 
mits murder] through an agent, because it says, Who- 
so sheddeth man's blood by man, shall his 
blood be shed: [i.e. if he slays] by means of another 

1 Who committed suicide to save himself from the Philistines, v. I Sam. 
xxxi, 4. 2 It is a principle of exegesis that ak and ra& (excepting, 

save that) are limiting particles. z Who risked their lives, which is 

akin to suicide, in order to sanctify God's name. 
* Viz, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome, with whom the 'four beasts' 
mentioned in Dan. vn, 3, 17, were identified. 

5 Reading this instead of Adam, Edom and Esau stand for Rome, 

6 I.e. this too refers to Esau (Rome). 

7 B.I£. 916. The verse is made to foretell the punishment of the kingdoms 
that have enslaved Israel, particularly Rome (Edom). 

8 *One* is a deduction from the employment of the singular; i.e. one 
man alone, either as witness or as judge, may cause conviction. 

9 Th.: presumably he understands Whoso sheddeth man's 
blood to imply extension — even one who was not warned previously, 

279 



XXXIV. 14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

person, 1 His blood shall be shed. For [the murder 
of] an embryo, for it says, Whoso sheddeth the 

BLOOD OF MAN WITHIN [ANOTHER] MAN, SHALL 

HIS blood BE shed. 2 R. Judah b. R. Simon said: 
Also he who murders by strangling, and on his own 
testimony, as it says, Whoso sheddeth man's 
blood [while retaining it] within man, shall his 
blood be shed. 3 R. Levi said: Behold, if a man slew 
yet was not slain, 4 when will he be slain? When man comes 
[for final judgment 5 ; thus it is written], Whoso 
sheddeth man's blood, when man comes 6 
shall his blood be shed. 7 

R. Akiba lectured: He who sheds blood is regarded as 
though he had impaired [God's] likeness. What is the 
proof? Whoso sheddeth man's blood, etc. What 
is the reason? For in the image of God made He 
man. 8 R. Eleazar b. 'Azariah lectured: He who refrains 
from procreation is as though he impaired [God's] image. 
What is the proof? For in the image of God 
made He man, which is followed by, And you, be 
ye fruitful, and multiply. 9 Ben 'Azzai lectured: 
He who refrains from procreation is as though he shed 
blood and impaired [God's] likeness. What is the proof? 
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, etc.; why? For 
in the image of God made He man, which is 
followed by, And you, be ye fruitful, and 
multiply. 10 Said R. Eleazar to him: Teachings are 
becoming when they are uttered by those who practise 

1 Referring 'by man* to 'sheddeth*, and ignoring the punctuation — 
v. Kid. 43a. * A man within another man is an embryo. For the 

whole passage cf. Sanh. 57ft (pp. 390, 391, in Sonc. ed.). 
* One can shed blood and yet retain it within the victim only by strangula- 
tion; further* the verse may be translated Whoso . . . blood, 
by that same ma n — i.e. on his own confession — shall . . . shed. 
4 Having died peacefully in his bed. 5 Or it may mean: When Adam 
comes, v. supra, xxi, 7. Radal: when Messiah comes. 
8 This is a play on words, ba* adorn fin man) being read ha adorn, when 
man comes. 7 Deut. R. 11, 25. 

8 Thus murder is punished by death because it impairs God's image, 
as it were. 

9 I.e. because man was made in God's image, therefore be ye fruitful. 

10 Thus, if the last is violated, the former two are transgressed. 

280 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXIV. 1 4- 1 5 

them, but you, son of f Azzai, preach well, but do not fulfil 
your teaching I 1 That is because I desire to study Torah, 2 
he pleaded, while the world can be preserved through 
others. 3 

15. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; 
swarm in the earth, and multiply therein (ix, 
7). Resh Lakish said : A covenant has been made in favour 
of climates. 4 Resh Lakish was sitting and studying Tofah 
in a small forest of Tiberias, when two women came out 
from there, one saying to the other, 'Praised be He who 
has led us out from that bad climate/ 'Whence do you 
come?' he called out to them. 'From Mazga,' they replied. 
'I know about Mazga/ he observed, 'and it contains no 
more than two dwelling houses I 5 Blessed is He who 
inspireth the inhabitants of a town with love for it! J 

A disciple of R. Issi w T as sitting before him and could 
not comprehend what he was explaining to him. 'Why 
cannot you grasp it?' he asked, ' Because I am an exile from 
home/ he replied. 'Whence are you?' inquired he. 'From 
Gabath Shammai/ he replied, 'What is its climate?' he 
asked. 'When a child is born there we have to crush spices 
and smear his head with it, lest insects should eat him/ 
he replied. 'Blessed is He w T ho inspireth the inhabitants 
of a place with love for it!' he exclaimed. In the future 
too it will be thus : And I will take away the stony heart out 
of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh — leb basar 
(Ezek. xxxvi, 26), i.e., a heart which has no desire of (boser) 
his neighbour's portion. 6 

1 Ben 'Azzai was unmarried, this being the reason that he is not 

designated by his own name (Simeon). 

% Lit. 'My soul delights in the Torah*. 

8 Yeb. 63b. 

4 God has implanted in man a love of his native soil even in bad climates 

(M.K.). 

B It is an insignificant place — quite unworthy of praise, and yet these 

women preferred it to Tiberias. Var. lee: it contains no more than two 

stands (for scholars) — with similar meaning, Resh Lakish judging it 

from the point of view nearest to his heart. 

6 I.e. is satisfied with his own. Cf. infra, xxxviii, 1 1 ; Sot*. 47a. 

28l 



XXXV. i-2] 

Chapter XXXV (NOACH) 

i. And God spoke unto Noah, and to his sons 

WITH HIM, SAYING: As FOR ME, BEHOLD, I ESTAB- 
LISH My COVENANT WITH you, etc. (ix, 8, 9). R. 
Judah said: Because he transgressed [God's] command he 
was put to shame. 1 R- Nehemiah said : He went beyond 
[God's] command and acted with self-restraint. 2 Therefore 
he and his sons were favoured with [God's] allocution, 
as it is written, And God spoke unto Noah and 
to his sons, etc. 

2. And God said: This is the token of the 

COVENANT . . . FOR PERPETUAL GENERATIONS — 

ledoroth (ix, 12). R. Judan said: This is written 
le-doraih? which thus excludes two generations, the 
generation of Hezekiah and that of the Great Synagogue. 4 
R. Hezekiah omitted the generation of the Men of the Great 
Synagogue and substituted that of R. Simeon b. Yohai. 

Elijah of blessed memory and R. Joshua b. Levi were 
sitting and studying together, 5 when they came to a ruling 
of R. Simeon b. Yohai. Said one: 'Here is the author of the 
ruling: let us go and question him about it/ 6 So Elijah 
of blessed memory went to him, 'Who is with you?' he 
asked. 'The greatest of his generation, R. Joshua b. Levi/ 
he answered. 'Has the rainbow appeared in his days?' 

1 He was told to resume marital relations immediately on leaving the 
Ark, whereas he engaged first in planting a vineyard (v. 20) ; therefore 
he was put to shame by Ham (vv. 22 seq., infra, xxxvi, 4). 

2 This was not a transgression but on the contrary a more scrupulous 
observance of God's command. For whereas God had forbidden marital 
relations in the Ark only, he subdued his desires even after leaving the Ark. 
* Though read le-doroth. Dorath (lit. 'the generation of) is singular, 
and therefore implies limitation. Th. ; he interprets the omissions of the 
two warns (rnr> instead of nnt^) as intimating the omission of 
two generations. 

4 A body founded by Ezra to act as the official guardians of the Law. 
These generations did not need the sign of the rainbow, because they 
were completely righteous. 

5 Elijah was believed to visit people quite frequently. 

6 R. Simeon b. Yohai of course was dead, having belonged to a much 
earlier generation (2nd century) than R. Joshua b. Levi (3rd century). 
But Elijah could still consult him. 

282 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXV. 2-3 

he inquired ; ' if it has, he is not worthy of being received by 
me/ 1 

R. Hezekiah related in R. Jeremiah's name : R. Simeon 
b. Yohai had but to say, ' O field, O field, be filled with gold 
dinars, 7 and it was filled. 2 

R. Hezekiah related in R. Jeremiah's name: Thus did 
R. Simeon b. Yohai say: If Abraham is willing, he can 
effectively intercede for [all generations] from his days 
until mine, while I can intercede for [all generations] from my 
time until the advent of Messiah. While if he is not willing, 
let Ahijah the Shilonite unite with me, and we can intercede 
for all from the days of Abraham until those of Messiah. 3 

R. Hezekiah said in R. Jeremiah's name: Thus did 
R. Simeon b. Yohai say: The world possesses not less 
than thirty men as righteous as Abraham. If there are 
thirty, my son and I are two of them ; if ten, my son and I 
are two of them; if five, my son and I are two of them; if 
two, they are my son and I; if there is but one, it is I. 4 

3. I HAVE SET MY BOW (KASHTl) IN THE CLOUD 

(ix, 13) : that means, My likeness (kishutht), something that 
is comparable to Me. 5 Is that really possible ? In truth, [the 
bow resembles God] as the straw resembles the grain. 6 

And it shall come to pass, when I bring 
clouds upon the earth (ix, 14). R. Judan said in 
name of R. Judah b. R. Simon : This may be compared to 
a man who was holding in his hand some hot flour, 7 and was 
going to give it to his son, but gave it to his servant instead. 8 

And the bow shall be in the cloud, etc. (ix, 
16). It once happened that R. Isaac, R. Jonathan and R. 
Judan b. Giyori went to hear an exposition of the Torah — 
some say of the chapter on libations — from R. Simeon b. 

* For in a truly righteous generation it would be unnecessary. Keth. 77K 
2 Ex. R. lii, 3. s Sanh. 976. * V. infra, xlix, 3; Hul. gza. 
5 V. Ezek. r, 28. * It is but a faint reflection of God's glory. 

7 Var. lee: a hot axe. 

8 To save his son the discomfort. (Var. lee. is perhaps preferable: he 
wished to pour it out on his son — in his anger — but poured it, etc.) 
Thus here too God promises that in His anger He will bring the clouds 
on the earth, not on man. 

283 



XXXV. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Yohai. Then they took their adieus from him, 1 but stayed 
on another day. Said they: We must bid him farewell a 
second time. One of them then expounded [a Scriptural 
passage], 2 saying to them : Since it is already written, So 
Joshua blessed them, and sent them away; and they went unto 
their tents (Josh, xsn, 6), why is it further stated, More- 
over when Joshua sent them away unto their tents, he blessed 
them (ib. 7)? The reason is because when the Israelites 
were engaged in conquering and dividing the land, the 
tribes of Reuben and Gad were with them and likewise 
spent fourteen years there in conquering and dividing the 
country. After the fourteen years they received permission 
from Joshua to return home, but they stayed there another 
few days, and then asked permission a second time. There- 
fore it says, 'Moreover, when Joshua sent them away,' etc. 
R. Judan said: The tribes of Reuben and Gad formed 
Joshua's personal retinue, and he accompanied them to 
the Jordan [on their return home]. When they saw that 
his retinue was thus diminished, they turned back and 
escorted him to his home. His last blessing was greater 
than the first, as it is written, And he spoke unto them, 
saying : Return with much wealth to your tents, etc. (ib. 8). 3 

Another expounded thus: Since it is written, On the 
eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king 
(1 Kings viii, 66), why is it stated, And on the three and 
twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away, 
and they blessed the king (1 Chron. vn, 10) ? 4 The reason, 
however, is that they obtained permission [to go on the 
twenty-second day], waited a couple of days, 5 and then 
received permission a second time; therefore it is said, 
And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month, 

1 Lit. 'they received permission from him" — to go home. 
*To prove that though permission had already been granted, it was 
necessary to receive it again since they had stayed on after it. 3 M.K. ga. 
* Our edd. read: . . . The people away unto their tents; And they blessed 
the king is absent. Y.T.: the difficulty is not that the latter verse is 
superfluous, but that it contradicts the former, for the eighth day of the 
feast of Tabernacles, to which the former verse refers, is the twenty- 
second of the month, not the twenty-third. 

5 Viz. the twenty-second and twenty-third. Others omit ' a couple of 
days', or read 'one day', which is preferable. 

284 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXV. 3 

etc. R. Levi said : It is written, For they kept the dedication 
of the altar seven days and the feast [sc. Tabernacles] seven 
days (ih. 9). Now the seven days before the Festival must 
include the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement, 1 yet 
during [all] these seven days the Israelites ate, drank, 
rejoiced and lit lamps. Subsequently, however, they were 
smitten with remorse, saying, ' Perhaps we have done wrong 
by desecrating the Sabbath and eating on the Day of 
Atonement ? ' In order to tranquillise them and assure them 
that the Holy One, blessed be He, had approved their 
actions, there came forth a heavenly voice and declared 
to them, 'Ye are all worthy of the Hereafter/ The last 
blessing was greater than the first; hence it says, And they 
went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart (1 Kings, 
loc. cit.). R. Isaac observed: 'Joyful," because they found 
their wives clean, and 'glad of heart' because they conceived 
male children. R. Levi said: There went forth a heavenly 
voice and proclaimed, 'Ye are all worthy of the Hereafter.' 

The third expounded : It is already written, So she went 
from him (n Kings iv, 5) 2 ; why then is it stated further, 
Then she came and told the man of God (ib. 7) ? 3 The reason, 
however, is because it says And the oil stayed (ib. 6), which 
means that the market price advanced, 4 and she came to 
ask him whether to sell now or not. 5 His second blessing was 
greater than the first, viz. And live thou and thy sons of the 
rest (ib. y) 6 : which means, until the resurrection of the dead. 7 

When he [R. Simeon b. Yohai] saw that they were men of 
such culture, he sent a couple of scholars with them, to 
hear what they would teach on the road. One of them 
expounded thus : It was already written, And the angel of 
God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went 
behind them (Ex. xiv, 19); why then is it further stated, 

1 The Feast of Tabernacles commences on the fifteenth of Tishri, while 
the Day of Atonement is on the tenth of that month. 

2 This refers to the woman whom Elisha saved from slavery by the 
miracle of the increasing oil. * That the miracle had been duly performed. 
* Probably translating: And the oil stood up — i.e. advanced in price. 

6 But wait for a further increase. 

8 Whereas EUsha's first blessing had merely been that the oil would 
suffice to pay her debts. 7 Th.: not that they would live until then, 
but that the oil would sustain them even if they lived so long. 

285 



XXXV. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

And the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood 
behind them (ib.)? It means that that very Attribute of 
Judgment, 1 which threateningly confronted Israel, was 
turned round by the Holy One, blessed be He, and directed 
against the Egyptians. 

A second expounded: And the bow shall be in 

THE CLOUD; AND I WILL LOOK UPON IT, THAT I 

MAY REMEMBER THE EVERLASTING COVENANT 

between Elohim (God): this refers to the Attribute 
of Heavenly Judgment above; And every living 

CREATURE OF ALL FLESH THAT IS UPON THE EARTH: 

this refers to judgment below: the judgment above is 
rigid while the judgment below is pliable. 2 

A third expounded: One verse says, [For wisdom is better 
than rubies,} and all things desirable are not to be compared 
unto her (Prov. viii, n); w T hereas another verse says, And 
all thy desirable things are not to be compared unto her (ib. 
in, 15)? ' Things desirable * connotes religious acts and good 
deeds ; ' Thy desirable things, * gems and precious stones. 
R. Aha explained it in the name of R. Tanhuma b. R. 
Hiyya: My desirable things and thy desirable things are not 
to be compared unto her, 3 for, But let him that glorieth glory 
in this, that he understandeth, and knozoeth Me (Jer. IX, 23).* 

1 Judgment and mercy are often hypostasized as living personalities. 

2 The passage is somewhat obscure. Perhaps it means: heavenly judg- 
ment is exacting only when earthly judgment is lax; cf. supra, xxvi, 6. 
The whole story about these three scholars is quoted here for the sake 
of this verse. 

s Sc. wisdom, in the sense of the knowledge and the fear of God, stands 
higher than material wealth and even than religious observances (*E J.) — 
presumably because such wisdom is the foundation of all noble deeds. 
4 Several MSS. including cur. edd. add the following: Arteban (the last 
Parthian king) sent our Teacher (R. Judah ha-Nasi) a priceless gem, with 
the request, 'Let me have in return an article as valuable as this/ So 
he sent him a mezuzah. He sent back word : ' I gave you a priceless object, 
whereas you returned me something worth but a folar ' (a small debased 
coin). "My desirable things and thy desirable things are not to be com- 
pared unto her,* he retorted (the mezuzah symbolising the knowledge 
of God). * Moreover, you sent me something which I must guard, whereas 
I sent you something which guards you while you sleep at ease, as it 
says, When thou walkest, it shall lead thee (Prov. VI, zz) — in this world; 
when thou Best down, it shall watch over thee (ib.) — in the hour of death; 
And when thou wakest, it shall talk with thee (ib.) — in the Hereafter/ 

286 



(XXXVL i 
Chapter XXXVI (NOACH) 
i. And the sons of Noah, that went forth 

FROM THE ARK, WERE SHEM, AND HAM, AND 

Japhet (ix, i 8). It is written, When He giveth quietness, 
who then can condemn, etc. (Job xxxiv, 29) ? R. Meir inter- 
preted it : He quieteneth Himself from His world, And He 
hideih His face (ib.) from His world, like a judge before 
whom a curtain is spread, so that he does not know what 
is happening without. 1 Let that suffice thee, Meir, said 
they to him. 2 Then what is meant by, ' When He giveth 
quietness, who can condemn?' he demanded. Was not ease 
given to the generation of the Flood; who then can con- 
demn them? they replied. 3 And what ease was given to 
them? Their seed is established (nakon) in their sight with 
them, and their offspring before their eyes (ib. xxi, 8) ; They 
send forth their little ones like a flock, etc. (ib. 11). R. Levi 
said: Their wives were pregnant but three days and then 
bore : for ' nakon ' is stated here, whilst elsewhere it is said, 
Be ready (nekonim, pi. of nakon) against the third day 
(Ex. xix, 15) : just as 'nakon' there means for three days, 
so 'nakon' here means for three days. The Rabbis said: 
Even after one day, for 'nakon' occurs here, while else- 
where it is said, And be ready (nakon) by the morning (ib. 
xxxiv, 2) : just as ' nakon ' there means in one day, so here 
too it means one day. 'And their offspring before their 
eyes ' means that they saw their children's children. ' They 
send forth their little ones ('awilehem) like a flock ' : R. Levi 

1 He is unconcerned by what is done in this world and is not incensed 
by the deeds of the wicked — a remarkable teaching of God's trans- 
cendence. Curedd. alter the meaning by adding: so said the generation 
of the Flood (according to this R, Meir merely puts these words into the 
mouth of the wicked), Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth 
not (Job xxii, 14). But in that case it is difficult to see why his colleagues 
so sharply rejected this interpretation. Cf. Lev, R. v, 1. 

2 You have said more than enough — heaven forfend that this teaching 
should be true! 

8 I.e. when God is patient and long-suffering with the wicked, who can 
demand that He should have punished them sooner? Or perhaps: did 
He not give them tranquillity, and what did they lack? Their prosperity 
was complete. 

S87 



XXXVL 1-2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said : In Arabia a child is called 'awila. 1 And their children 
dance (ib.) — like demons, as you read, And satyrs shall 
dance there (Isa. xiii, 21). 2 When one of them gave birth 
by day she would say to her son, 'Go and bring me a 
flint to cut your navel cord/ If at night, she would say to 
her son, ' Go and light a lamp to cut [burn] through your 
navel cord.' It once happened that a woman who gave 
birth at night said to her son, ' Go and light me a candle 
to cut through your navel cord/ He went out, and the 
demon Shimadon [lit. 'Destruction'] met him and said 
to him, 'Go and inform your mother that the cock has 
crowed, 3 but if the cock had not crowed yet, I would have 
smitten and killed you/ 'Go and inform your mother that 
my mother had not yet cut my navel cord/ he retorted, 4 'but 
had my mother cut my navel cord, I would have smitten 
and killed you/ Thus it is written, Their houses are 
safe, without fear (Job xxi, 9) — of demons : Neither is the 
rod of God upon them (ib.) — they are spared sufferings. 
Yet when He hid His face from them, 5 who said to Him, 
'Thou hast not done weir? 6 And why did He hide his 
face from them? [Because as it is written], Whether it be 
done unto a nation or unto a man> alike — yahad (Job XXXIV, 
29): * Unto a nation* refers to the generation of the Flood; 
1 And unto a man,* to Noah; "alike 1 : for from him [Noah] 
was the world established, and He can set up His world 
from a nation, and He can establish His word from a single 
person, as it is written, And the sons of Noah, etc. 7 

2. Mighty men do evil that is unfathomable (Job xxxiv, 
24) 8 : the men of the generation of the Flood did evil 

1 He translates 'awilehem, which is a rare word in this sense, as E.V. 

* The same word for dance is used in both places. 

s It is daylight, when I am powerless ; cf. Yoma 11 a. 

* So that I lack my full strength. 

6 Decreeing that they should all drown. 

6 This concludes the exegesis on Job xxxrv, 20, with which this section 
began: And when He kideth his face, who then can behold Him (ye- 
shurennu) ? By a play on words ye-shuremtu is connected with keshurah, 
right or just. 7 Since He can as easily establish the world from an 
individual, He destroyed the whole generation, as they were wicked. 
8 E.V. 'He breaketh in pieces mighty men without inquisition.' 

288 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVI. 2-3 

with their wicked deeds ; ' That is unfathomable ' : their 
wicked deeds were unfathomable [endless]. And He setteth 
others in their stead (ib.): viz., the children of Noah; hence 
And the sons of Noah, etc. 

Yea, since the day was I am He, and there is none that 
can deliver out of My hand (Isa. xliii, 13) : none can deliver 
any of the world nations out of My hand. / will work, and 
who can reverse it (ib.) ? In all the works and designs which 
I executed upon the people of the generation of the Flood, 
who could say to Me, 'Thou hast not done rightly'? But 
Noah entered [the Ark] in peace and left it in peace: thus, 
And the sons of Noah, etc. 

And Ham is the father of Canaan: He was 
the source of degradation. 1 

These three were the sons of Noah, and of 
these was the whole earth overspread (ix, 19), 
as by a huge fish that spawned its eggs and filled the earth. 

3. And Noah the husbandman began — way- 
yahel (ix, 20). He was degraded (nithhallel) and debased 
(huilin). 2 Why ? Because He planted a vine- 
yard (ib.). Should he have not planted something 
of use, such as a young fig-shoot or a young [olive-] 
shoot? Instead of which He planted a vineyard. 
And whence did he procure it? Said R. Abba b. Kahana: 
He took into the Ark with him vine shoots for planting, 
and young shoots for fig trees and olive trees, as it is written, 
And thou shalt gather to thee (Gen. vi, 21): a man gathers 
in only what he will need [in the future]. 3 

The husbandman. Three had a passion for agri- 
culture, and no good was found in them : Cain, Noah, and 
Uzziah. Cain was a tiller of the ground (ib. IV, 2); Noah: 
And Noah, the husbandman, began; Uzziah: 
And he had husbandmen and vinedressers in the mountains 
and in the fruitful fields, for he loved husbandry (11 Chron. 
xxvi, 10).* 

1 To his father. ' Canaan' is treated as a substantive deriving from kana\ 
to subdue, subject; hence 'subjection', transf. lowliness, degradation. 
z Wayyahel is thus connected with kullin t profane. 
» V. supra, xxxi, 14- * V. supra, xxn, 3- 

289 o 



XXXVI. 3~4l MIDRASH RABBAH 

A HUSBANDMAN [lit, 'A MAN OF THE GROUND': 
he was so termed] because he saved the face of the ground, 
since for his sake the ground was preserved ; and because he 
filled the face of the ground. A man of the ground: 
just as a castle-guard is called by the name of the castle. 1 

R. Berekiah said: Moses was more beloved than Noah. 
Noah, after having been called A righteous man (Gen. vi, 
9), is called A man of the ground 2 ; but Moses, 
after having been called An Egyptian man (Ex. 11, 19), was 
then called The man of God (Deut. xxxin, 1). He was more 
beloved than Noah, who ended as a castrate. 3 

And planted a vineyard. As he was going to 
plant the vineyard the demon Shimadon met him and 
proposed, ' Come into partnership with me [in this vine- 
yard], but take care not to enter into my portion, for if you 
do I will injure you/ 

4. And he drank of the wine, and was 
drunken (ix, 21). He drank immoderately, became 
intoxicated, and was thus put to shame. R. rjiyya b. Ba 
said: He planted it, drank thereof, and was humiliated all 
on one and the same day. 

And he was uncovered (wayyithgal) within 
his tent. R. Judah b. R. Simon and R. Hanan in the 
name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac said: Not wayygal 
is written but wayyithgal 4 : he was the cause of 
exile for himself and subsequent generations. The Ten 
Tribes w r ere exiled only because of wine, as it is written, 
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they 
may follow strong drink (Isa. v, 11). The Tribes of Judah 
and Benjamin were exiled only on account of wine, as it is 
written, But these also [viz. Judah and Benjamin] erred 
through wine (ib. xxviii, 7). 

Within his tent (ahaloh): this is written ahalah 

1 Jast. Th.: a land-worker is so called because he tills the land. 

2 Now understood in a contemptuous sense. 

3 V. infra, 7. The original is difficult and the translation is only a con- 
jecture; cur. edd. omit it altogether. * This is a more intensive form ; 
by a play on words it is derived from galuth, exile. 

290 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVI. 4-6 

(her tent), 1 viz. his wife's tent. R. Huna said in R. Eliezer's 
name: When Noah was leaving the Ark a lion struck and 
mutilated him. 2 Now 3 he went to cohabit, but his semen 
"was scattered and he was humiliated. 

R. Johanan said : Beware of a passion for wine, because 
in this passage on wine way (woe) is written fourteen times, 
as it is written, And Noah the husbandman began (wayyahel), 
and planted (wayyitta) a vineyard, And he drank (wayyesht) 
of the wine, and was drunken (wayyishkar) ; and he was 
uncovered (wayyithgal). And Ham saw (wayyar) . . . and 
told (wayyagged) his two brethren, and Shem and Japheih 
took (wayyikkah) a garment, and laid it (wayyasimu) upon 
both their shoulders, and went (wayyeleku) backward, and 
covered (wayyekassu) . . . And Noah awoke (wayyikkez) 
. . . and knew (wayyeda*) what his youngest son had done unto 
him. And he said (wayyomer): Cursed be Canaan (Gen. 
ix, 20-25). 4 

5. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw . . . 
and told (wayyagged) his two brethren 
WITHOUT (ix, 22). He said to his brethren: Adam had 
but two sons, yet one arose and slew his brother ; and this 
man [Noah] has three sons and yet he wants four! He 
spoke to them, and persuaded them. 5 R. Abba b. Zabdi 
said : Why does a slave go free for the loss of a tooth or an 
eye? 6 It follows from this: And ... he saw, and 
told. 7 

6. And Shem and Japheth took a garment. R. 
Johanan said: Shem commenced the good deed, then 

1 Though punctuated ahaloh. 2 The reference is to his genital organs. 

8 Being drunk, he forgot that he was unfit for intercourse. 

4 In this passage way as part of the verb occurs fourteen times, and by a 
play on words it is translated 'woe'. Cf. Sanh. 70*2. 

5 ' Wayyagged* is derived now from nagad, to draw (with words), whence 
*to persuade'. I.e. he tried to persuade them that their father had done 
wrong (v. 4). 6 V. Ex. xxi, 26 f. 

7 He saw with his eye and told with his mouth, his words being clipped, 
as it were, by his teeth. Thus on account of these organs he was con- 
demned to slavery. (Gen. ix, 25); consequently, when his master deprives 
him of one of them, he regains his freedom. 

291 



XXXVI. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Japheth came and hearkened to him. Therefore Shem was 
granted a ialliih and Japheth a pallium)- 

And laid it upon both their shoulders. 
Now since it is said, And went backwards, do we 
not know that They saw not their father's 
nakedness? This, however, teaches that they hid their 
faces with their hands and walked backward, 2 giving him 
the respect due from a son to a father. 3 Said the Holy One, 
blessed be He, to Shem: 'Thou didst cover thy father's 
nakedness : By thy life ! I will reward thee When these men 
are hound in their cloaks (be-sarbelehon), ' etc. (Dan. ill, 
21). 4 (R. Judan and R. Huna [differed as to the meaning 
of ' be-sarbelehon '] : R. Judan said: It means in their prayer 
cloaks; R. Huna said: It means in their robes of state. 5 ) 
The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Japheth : ' Thou didst 
cover thy father's nakedness : By thy life, I will reward thee, 
for It shall come to pass in thai day, that I will give unto 
Gog aplacefitfor burial in Israel' (Ezek. xxxix, n). 6 The 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to Ham : * Thou didst bring 
thy father's nakedness into disgrace: By thy life, I will 
requite thee: So shall the king of Assyria lead away the 
captives of Egypt, and the exiles of Ethiopia, young and old, 
naked and barefoot, and with buttocks uncovered to the 
shame of Egypt' (Isa. xx, 4). 

7. And Noah awoke from his wine (ix, 24): 
he w T as sobered from his wine. 

And knew what his youngest son had done 
unto him. Here it means, his worthless son, as you read, 

1 A cloak fastened with clasps or buckles. TalUth here means a fringed 
garment, and R. Johanan means that the reward of Shem (the ancestor 
of the Jews) was the precept of fringes (v. Num. xv, 38), while that of 
Japheth (i.e. the Greek) was the pallium — a cloak betokening his dignity. 

2 But actually facing Noah. 

3 It would have been disrespectful to turn their back on him. 

* When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, thy descendants, are cast 

into the fiery furnace, I will save them. 

s Jast. Th.: in their breeches. 

8 Burial m the land of Israel is regarded as a privilege — moreover, here 

it implies that they would enjoy the Messianic era. Gog is held to be a 

descendant of Japheth. 

292 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVI. 7-8 

Because the brazen altar that was before the Lord was too 
little to receive the burnt- offering, etc. (1 Kings vm, 64). 1 

And he said: cursed be Canaan (ix, 25): Ham 
sinned and Canaan is cursed ! R. Judah and R. Nehemiah 
disagreed. R. Judah said: Since it is written, And God 
blessed Noah and his sons (Gen. ix, 1), while there cannot 
be a curse where a blessing has been given, consequently, 
He said: Cursed be Canaan. R. Nehemiah 
explained: It was Canaan who saw it [in the first place] 
and informed them, therefore the curse is attached to him 
who did wrong. 

R. Berekiah said: Noah grieved very much in the Ark 
that he had no young son to wait on him, and declared, 
'When I go out I will beget a young son to do this for me/ 
But when Ham acted thus to him, he exclaimed, * You have 
prevented me from begetting a young son to serve me, 2 
therefore that man [your son] will be a servant to his 
brethren!' R. Huna said in R. Joseph's name: [Noah 
declared], 'You have prevented me from begetting a 
fourth son, therefore I curse your fourth son.' 3 R. Huna 
also said in R. Joseph's name: You have prevented me 
from doing something in the dark [sc. cohabitation], 
therefore your seed will be ugly and dark-skinned. R. 
Hiyya said : Ham and the dog copulated in the Ark, there- 
fore Ham came forth black-skinned while the dog publicly 
exposes its copulation. R. Levi said : This may be compared 
to one who minted his own coinage 4 in the very palace 
of the king, whereupon the king ordered: I decree that 
his effigy be defaced and his coinage cancelled. Similarly, 
Ham and the dog copulated in the Ark and were punished. 5 

8. And he said: Blessed be the Lord, the 
God of Shem . . . God enlarge Japheth (ix, 

1 Katon is used in both verses, in the second in the sense that it was too 
small and consequently unfit; v. Zeb. 59^. Ham was actually not the 
youngest son, as appears from the order, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 

2 According to the Rabbis he castrated him. 

8 Sc. Canaan; v. x, 6. 4 Coins bearing his own effigy. 

6 Copulating in the Ark is compared to minting one's coinage (producing 

offspring in one's own image) in the King's (i.e. God's) own house. 

293 



XXXVI. 8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

26 f.). This alludes to Cyrus who ordered the Temple to 
be rebuilt ; yet even so, And he 1 shall dwell in 
the tents of Shem: the Shechinah dwells only in 
the tents of Shem. Bar Kappara explained it : Let the words 
of the Torah be uttered in the language of Japheth [sc. 
Greek] in the tents of Shem. 2 R. Judan said: From this 
we learn that a translation [of the Bible is permitted]. 3 
Thus it is written, And they read in the book, in the Law of 
God (Neh. vni, 8) : this refers to Scripture ; distinctly (ih.) : 
to a translation; And they gave the sense (ib.) — i.e. the 
punctuation accents; And caused them to understand the 
reading (ib.) — this refers to the beginnings of the verses. 4 
R. Hiyya b. Lulianus said: It refers to the grammatical 
sequence [of words]. 5 The Rabbis of Caesarea said: Here 
we have an allusion to the traditional text. 6 

R. Zera and R. Hananel said : Even if a man is as well- 
versed in the Torah as Ezra, he must not read it from 
memory and write it. 7 But it was taught 8 : It once happened 
that R. Meir visited Asia Minor, 9 and finding there no 
Scroll of Esther, he read it from memory and wrote it? 10 
There [in Babylonia] they say: He wrote two Scrolls, 
suppressed the first and kept the second as valid [for use]. u 

1 Sc. God. E.V. 'And he\ i.e. Japheth. 

2 V. Meg. gb. The reference is to the Septuagint. 

s ' Targum * usually connotes the Aramaic translation of Onkelos, but it 
may also mean translation in general. 

* Which are not marked in the original Scroll of the Bible. 

6 I.e. whether certain words are to be read with what follows or what 
precedes them; cf. infra, lxxx, 6. For the whole passage cf. Meg. 3a; 
Ned. 37&. 

* I.e. they taught the traditional vocalization, which does not always 
agree with the written text. 

7 I.e. he must not write a Scriptural Scroll from memory but copy from 
another. 

8 Meg. 1 &b. 

s Th. : Asia here means a tract of land including Lydia and some small 

portions of what is now Asia. It may also refer to a town, supposed to be 

Essa, east of the lake of Tiberias (v. Neub. Geogr., p. 38). 

1& R. Meir was a skilled writer of Scrolls. 

11 Because the first was written from memory, whereas the second was 

copied. 



294 



[XXXVII. i~2 

Chapter XXXVII (NOACH) 

i. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, and Magog, etc. 
(x, 2). R. Samuel b. Ammi said: These are Africa, 1 
Germania, 2 Media, Macedonia and Mysia. 3 And 
Tiras: R. Simon said: That is the Euphrates region; 
the Rabbis said : It is Thrace. 

And the sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, and 
Riphath and Togarmah (x, 3): i.e. Asia, 4 
Adiabene, and Germania. R. Berekiah said: Germanicia. 5 

And the sons of Javan: Eli shah, and 
Tarshish, Kithim, and Dodanim (x, 4): i.e. 
Hellas and Taras [Tarantum], Italia, 6 and Dardania. 7 
One verse calls them Dodanim, while another verse calls 
them Rodanim (i Chron. I, 7)? R. Simon said: They are 
called Dodanim because they are the descendants of 
Israel's kinsmen (dodim); ' Rodanim,' because they come 
and oppress (rodim) them. R. Hanan said : When Israel are 
elevated they say to them, ' We are the descendants of your 
kinsmen,' but when they are low they come and oppress 
them. 

2. And the sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, 
and Put, and Canaan (x, 6). Resh Lakish said: 
We might have thought that the family of Put was 
absorbed, 8 had not Ezekiel came and explicitly enumerated 
him: Ethiopia, and Put, and Lud, and all the mingled people 
. . . shall fall (Ezek. xxx, 5).* 

1 Th. : this probably refers to ancient Phrygia in Asia Minor, not to Africa. 

2 The land of the Cimmerians, on the shores of the Caspian sea. 

3 A district of Asia Minor, Jast., with an emended text. Th., however, 
maintains with Graetz that the text is correct, isarma being another name 
for Javan (Macedonia) ; in that case several names are left unidentified. 

4 Th. : Asia proconsularis ; ancient Phrygia. 

5 Town and district in the province of Commagene, near the borders of 
Cappadocia (Jast.). 

6 Especially the southern part of Italy, called Magna Graecia (Jast.). 

7 A district and city of Upper Mysia. 

8 In the other branches of the family, since Scripture does not enumerate 
the sons of Put, as it does the sons of the others. 

* Thus the family of Put existed as a distinct entity in the days of Ezekiel. 

295 



XXXVII. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

And Cush begot Nimrod (x, 8). This explains 
the text, Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, 
concerning Cush a Benjamite — ish yemini (Ps. vn, i). R. 
Joshua b. R. Nehemiah said in the name of R. Hanina b. 
Isaac: He [David] composed this with reference to the 
seat of judgment of that wicked man. 1 Was then Esau a 
Cushite? 2 [He is so called] because he acted like Nimrod. 
Hence it is written, Like Nimrod a mighty 
hunter before the Lord (x, 9): it is not written, 
Nimrod [was a mighty hunter], but Like Nimrod 3 : 
just as the one snared people by their words, 4 so did the 
other [Esau, i.e. Rome] snare people by their words, saying, 
* [True,] you have not stolen, [but tell us] who was your 
partner in the theft ; you have not killed, but who was your 
accomplice in the murder/ 

3. He (hu) was a mighty hunter, etc. Five 
times 'hu* is found denoting a wicked character, and five 
times denoting a good one. It is employed five times to 
denote a wicked character: He (hu) was a mighty 
hunter; This (hu) is Esau the father of the Edomites 
(Gen. xxxvi, 43); These are (hu) that Dathan and Abiram 
(Num. xxvi, 9); This same (hu) king Ahaz (11 Chron. 
xxviii, 22); This is (hu) Ahasuerus (Est. 1, 1). Five times 
'hu' denotes a good character: Ahram — the same is (hu) 
Abraham (1 Chron. 1, 27); These are (hu) thai Moses and 
Aaron (Ex. vi, 27); These are (hu) that Aaron and Moses 
(ib. 26); This same (hu) Hezekiah (11 Chron. xxxn, 30); 
This (hu) Ezra went up (Ezra vh, 6). R. Berekiah said in the 
name of the Rabbis of the other country [i.e. Babylonia] : 
We have another that is better than all : He is (hu) the Lord 

1 Sc. Esau, meaning- Rome. I.e. the cunning ot the Romans in verbally 
entangling those whom they accused until they inadvertently confessed 
to what they had never committed. It is not clear how he translates 
'ben yemini* (E.V. 'a Benjamite') in that case. Rashash conjectures 
that it means a * southerner ', Edom, the land of Esau, lying to the south 
of Judea, whilst Benjamin's territory was in the south of Palestine. 

2 Surely not, being descended from Shem. 
s Implying that there was another like him. 
4 Understanding hunter metaphorically. 

296 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVII. 3-4 

our God (Ps. cv, 7), teaching that His mercy endures for 
ever. 1 

4. And the beginning of his kingdom was 
Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh (x, 
10): i.e. Edessa, 2 Nisibis, and Ctesiphon. 3 In the 
land of Shinar: this is Babylonia. Shinar 
connotes that it is emptied (shemenu' ereth) of precepts, 
lacking the precepts of terumah, tithes, and the Sabbatical 
year. 4 Shinar connotes that its inhabitants die in 
anguish, 5 without a light and without a bath. 6 Shinar 
connotes that its princes (sarim) die young (ne'arim). 
Shinar finally connotes that its princes study the 
Torah in their youth. 7 

Out of that land went forth Asshur (x, 
11 f.): from that scheme 8 Asshur dissociated himself. 9 
When he saw them come to wage war against the Holy 
One, blessed be He, he quitted his country. Said God to 
Him : ' Thou hast departed from four places 10 ; by thy life ! 
I will give thee four'; hence, And builded Nineveh, 

AND REHOBOTH-IR, AND CALAH, AND RESEN, [the 

last-named being] Talsar. 11 Yet he [Asshur] did not remain 
constant [in his righteousness], and when he came and 
joined them in destroying the Temple God said to him: 

1 * Hu' is often understood to denote permanence, while ' Lord' describes 
God in His Attribute of Mercy (v. supra, xn, 15). 2 In Mesopotamia. 
3 A city in the southern part of Assyria, on the eastern bank of the river 
Tigris (Jast.). 4 These, like all precepts bound up with the soil, were 
to be observed in Palestine only. 

5 Lit. 'suffocation'. Wa-yenaer in Ex. xiv, 27 (E.V. * overthrew") is 
translated by the Targum 'suffocated'. 

6 V Shab. 2.6a on the lack of oils for lighting in Babylonia, and Shab. 
256. on the lack of baths. 

7 This last is absent in several MSS. Commentaries ad loc. t however, 
assume that in this clause 'princes' means scholars. But v. Proem 
xxiv to Lam. R., where awno instead of n^ae is read: whose 
princes are youths and trample upon the Torah. In that case 'princes' 
must be understood literally, v. also Ber. 8a. 

8 To build a city to heaven (Gen. xi, 1-9). 

9 Lit. 'went forth'. 10 Viz. Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh. 

"• Th. conjectures that this may be identical with ' Telassar ' mentioned in 
Isa. xxxvii, 12, which may have been the small kingdom of Bit-Adini 
on the Upper Euphrates. 

297 



XXXVII. 4~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

* Yesterday a chicken and to-day an eggl 1 Yesterday thou 
didst soar aloft with religious actions and noble deeds, 
whilst now thou art shut up like [a chicken in] an egg' 2 ; 
therefore, They have been an arm to the children of Lot (Ps. 
lxxxiii, 9), which means, for a curse (le-lezoat). 3 The 
same is the great CITY. We do not know whether 
Resen is the great city or Nineveh; since, however, it is 
written, Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city (Jonah 
ill, 3), it follows that Nineveh is the great city. 

5. And Mizraim [i.e. Egypt] begot, etc. (x, 
13 f.). R. Abba b. Kahana said: The entire coinage of 
Egypt is thoroughly debased: thus Pathruthim implies 
degradation, Casluhim implies shame. 4 R. Abba b. Kahana 
said: The Pathruthim and Casluhim set up bazaars where 
they stole [interchanged] each other's wives. What came 
forth from them? The Philistines and Caph- 
t o r 1 m (x, 14) : the Philistines were mighty men, while the 
Caphtorim were dwarfs. 5 

6. And Canaan begot Zidon his firstborn, 
etc. (x, 15-18). The H 1 v 1 t e : the inhabitants of Hildin 6 ; 
The Arkite: i.e. Arkas of the Lebanon. 7 The 
Sinite: Orthosia. 8 The Arvadite: Aradus. 9 The 
Zemarite: Hamats 10 ; and why is it called Zemarite? 

1 You have retrogressed. 

2 I.e. probably, you have stifled your good intentions. 

8 This is a play on words, mb (Lot) being read oft, a curse, it being 
loosely rendered: they have been delivered to a curse. The first half of 
the verse reads : Assyria also is joined with them. 

4 The passage is extremely obscure, the translation being only a con- 
jecture. He seems to mean that the name of Mizraim's children are all 
adjectival, descriptive of disgraceful types which originated in Egypt, 
but the meaning of the actual words in the text is very doubtful. Other 
MSS. have quite a different reading. 

5 Kaftor (Tirssi) in Hebrew is a button, and he probably interprets 
'Caphtorim* as meaning button-like — little and rotund people. 

§ If this is a place-name it has not been identified. Jast. translates: 
the cave-dwellers. 

7 Also called Caesarea Libani, a town at the north-western foot of Mount 
Lebanon. 8 A Phoenician seaport, south of the river Eleutheros. 

* On the Phoenician coast. 

10 I.e. Emesa, a city of Syria on the eastern bank of the Orontes. 

298 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXX VII. 6-7 

Because wool (zemer) is manufactured there. The 
Hamathite: Epiphania. 1 

And the border of the Canaanite was . . . 
unto Las ha (x, 19): i.e. as far as Callirrhoe. 2 

7. And unto Shem, the father of all the 
children of Eber, the elder brother of 
Japheth, to him also were children born (x, 
21). We do not know from this verse whether Shem or 
Japheth was the elder. 3 But since it is written, Now these 
are the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old, 
and begot Arpachshad two years after the flood (Gen. xi, 
10), it follows that Japheth was the elder. 4 

And unto Eber were born two sons; the 
nameof the one was Peleg [i.e. division], for 
in his days was the earth divided (x, 25). R. 
Jose said: The ancients, since they knew their genealogy, 5 
named themselves in reference to the events [of their 
days]. But we who do not know our genealogy name our- 
selves by our fathers. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: The 
ancients, because they could avail themselves of the Holy 
Spirit, named themselves in reference to [forthcoming] 
events 6 ; but we who cannot avail ourselves of the Holy 
Spirit are named after our fathers. R. Jose b. R. Halafta 
said : Eber must have been a great prophet, seeing that he 
named his child in reference to a [future] incident, as it is 

1 A city of Syria. a Warm springs on the eastern side of the Jordan, 
near the Dead Sea (Jast.). s The Hebrew may mean: the brother of 
the elder Japheth, and is therefore ambiguous. 

4 For Noah begot his first child at the age of 500, while the Flood occurred 
in his 600th year. Now his children are enumerated thus: Shem, Ham, 
and Japheth ; consequently, if these were in the order of birth, Shem would 
have been 102 years old two years after the Flood, not 100. Hence we 
must assume that they are enumerated in order of wisdom, not of age, 
Shem being the youngest, Ham a year older, and Japheth the eldest 
(Sanh. 696). 

5 And thus found it unnecessary to state who their fathers were. This is 
rather forced, and perhaps the reading in the Yalkut, which reverses the 
statements (i.e. the ancients did not know), is more logical and preferable. 

6 Thus an infant's name corresponded to an event that might happen in 
his later life. 

299 



XXXVII. 7~8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

written, And unto Eber were born two 
sons, etc. 

And why was the other called 'Joktan'? Because he 
minimised (maktin) [the importance of] his affairs. 1 What 
did he thereby earn? He was privileged to found thirteen 
families. Now if a younger is thus rewarded because he 
minimises his affairs, how much more so when a great 
man minimises his importance! Similarly, And Israel 
stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, 
who was the elder (ib. xlviii, 14). Said R. Huna: Do we 
not know from the birth records that he was the younger. 
But younger (za'ir) means that he minimised (maz'ir) his 
importance. What did he thereby earn? He attained the 
birthright. Now if the younger is thus rewarded because 
he minimises his importance, how much the more so when 
an older minimises his importance! 

8. And Joktan begot . . . and Hazarmareth 
(x, 26). R. Huna said: It refers to a place called Hazar 
Maweth, 2 where people eat leeks, wear garments of papyrus, 
and hope daily for death. 3 Samuel said : They did not even 
have garments of papyrus. 

And their dwelling was from Mesha (x, 
30). R. Eleazar b. Pappos said: Mesene 4 is dead; Media is 
sick, and Elam is dying. 5 Habil Yamma 6 is the glory of 
Babylon. 7 Zuzira 8 is the glory of Habil Yamma. R. Judah 

1 The reading supra, vr, 4, is * because he made himself small'. 

* I.e. this son founded that place. Hazar (hazir) is translated herbs, 
plants, while Maweth means death. 

3 It is a place of extreme poverty and misery. Th. : the reference is probably 
not to a place of that name in southern Arabia, which was rich and fertile. 

* The island formed by the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Royal Canal. 

5 The Jews of Mesene are all unfit genealogically; in the other two they 
are mixed, but the majority of Media are pure, while the majority of 
Elam are not. (This is the explanation given in I£id. Jib.) 

6 Lit. 'district of the sea 1 : that region of Babylon which is traversed by 
rivers and canals. 

7 Rashi in I£id. 72a; its inhabitants are of the purest birth in Babylon. 
It may also mean in general that it is the finest and most fertile district, 
as it actually was. 

8 In ICid. jza it is called Zizura. A district not far from the Tigris, the 
waters of whose canal debouched into the Tigris between Baghdad and 
Madam; Obermeyer, Landschaft, p. 125. 

300 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVII. 

said: Between the rivers 1 is as the Exile [sc. Babylon] in 
respect of genealogy. 2 

As thou goest toward Sephar; i.e. Taphar 3 ; 
Unto the mountain of the East: I.e. the moun- 
tains of the East. 4 

1 Jast.: between the Euphrates and the Tigris. Obermeyer, lor. cit. t 

pp. ioo-i, rejects this and maintains that 'between the rivers' is the 

Talmudic designation for any region of island formation, and here 

applies to the Euphrates region from Hit (Ihi de Kira) to Anah. 

3 Its genealogy is pure. The genealogy of Babylon was regarded as even 

purer than that of Palestine; Kad. 6gb. 

s A city in southern Arabia. 

* The text is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew. 



3OI 



XXXVIII. i] 

Chapter XXXVIII (NOACH) 

i. And the whole earth was of one language, 
etc. (xi, i). R. Leazar commenced his discourse in the name 
of R. Jose b. Zimra with the text: Slay them not, lest my 
people forget, make them wander to and fro by Thy power, 
and bring them down, O Lord, our Shield (Ps. lix, 12). The 
Rabbis relate the verse to Doeg and Ahitophel : David said, 
'Slay not Doeg and Ahitophel, lest my people forget,' i.e. 
lest the generations that follow them forget. 1 'Make them 
wander to and fro by Thy power," i.e. cast them about; 
'And bring them down" from their greatness; but for us, 
let ' The Lord be our Shield'. For the sin of their mouth, 
and the words of their lips (ib. 13) : this one permitted incest 
and bloodshed, and that one permitted incest and blood- 
shed. This one [Ahitophel] permitted them, [for he coun- 
selled], Go in unto thy father's concubines (11 Sam. XVI, 21); 
[while he further said], And I will come upon him while he 
is weary and weak-handed . . . and I will smite the king {ib. 
xvii, 2). And the other [Doeg] permitted them: Nahman b. 
Samuel said: He annulled his [David's] citizen rights and 
declared him an outlaw and as one dead, so that his blood 
was permitted [his life was forfeit] and his wife permitted. 2 
R. Leazar in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra related the verse 
to the generation of the Separation [of races]. Israel said: 
' Slay not the generation of Separation, lest my people 
forget": lest the generations that follow them forget. 'Make 
them wander to and fro by Thy power ' : cast them away, 
* And bring them down ' from above to below. 3 But for us, 
may ' The Lord be our shield. For the sin of their mouth ' : 
for the sin which they uttered with their mouth. They said : 
Once in one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years 4 the 
Firmament totters 5 ; therefore let us go and make supports, 
one in the north, one in the south, one in the west, whilst 



1 Their sin and their punishment. * Supra, xxxn, 1 . 

* I.e. from the top of their tower. 

* The period from the Creation to the Flood. 

5 But they refused to recognise the Flood as a Divine visitation for evil. 

302 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVIII. 1-3 

at this spot [sc. Babylonia] will be its eastern support. 
' And the word 1 of their lips * : thus it Is written, And 

THE WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE, etc. 

2. R, Abba b. Kahana began thus; Though thou shouldest 
bray a fool in a mortar with a pestle among groats, etc. 
(Prov. xxvii, 22). Said R. x\bba b. Kahana: Like a man who 
pounds barley in a frame; so he [who chastises the fool] 
thinks to improve him, 2 yet even as it [the pestle] rises and 
falls, 3 Yet will his foolishness not depart from him (ib.). 
Thus the generation of the Flood was removed from the 
generation of Separation, but [two years, as it is written, 
Shem begot Arpachshad] two years after the flood (Gen. 
xi, 10), 4 yet, And the whole earth was of one 

LANGUAGE, etc. 5 

3 . R. Johanan began thus : Whoso rewardeth evil for good, 
evil shall not depart from his house (ib. xvn, 13). Said R. 
Johanan: If your neighbour [first] entertained you with 
lentils and you [subsequently] entertained him with meat, 
you are still indebted to him; why? Because he showed 
hospitality to you first. R. Simeon b. Abba said: Not only 
' Whoso rewardeth evil for good \ but even he who rewardeth 
evil for evil, 6 'Evil shall not depart from his house J R. 
Alexandri commented on the verse 'Whoso rewardeth evil 
for good' 1 now the Torah said: If thou see the ass of him 
that hateth thee lying under its burden, thou shalt forbear 
to pass by him; thou shalt surely release it with him (Ex. 
xxiii, 5) : of such Scripture saith, * Whoso rewardeth evil for 
good, evil shall not depart,' etc. 7 R. Berekiah related the 

x The Hebrew has the singular. 2 This reading is preferable. 

8 Even while the fool is being chastised. 

4 With this the generation of the Separation was deemed to have begun, 

though actually the Separation took place 340 years after the Flood 

(supra, xxvi, 3). 5 The lesson was forgotten so soon — almost whilst 

the punishment was being inflicted. 

6 Translating, Whoso retumeth evil instead of returning good. 

7 The point here is not quite clear. Mah. explains that R. Alexandri 
supports R. Simeon b. Abba, and quotes the verse, If thou see, etc., to 
prove that even if one has done evil to another, the latter must return 
good, for him that hateth thee implies that he had done him harm, yet 
he is bound to go to his assistance. 

303 



XXXVIII. 3~6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

verse to these generations. 1 Now the generation of the 
Flood was removed from the generation of Separation but 
[two years, as it is written, ' Shem begot Arpachshad] two 
years after the flood 3 (Gen. xi, 10), yet, And the 

WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE, etc. 

4. R. Judah b. Rabbi commenced: They know not, 
neither do they understand ; for their eyes are bedaubed, that 
they cannot see, and their hearts, that they cannot under- 
stand (Isa. xliv, 18). Thus it is written, The Nephilim 
were in the earth in those days, etc. (Gen. vi, 4). R. Judah b. 
Rabbi commented: The later generations would not learn 
from the earlier ones; viz. the generation of the Flood 
from that of Enosh, and the generation of the Separation 
from that of the Flood [from which it was but two years 
removed, as it is written, 'Shem begot Arpachshad] two 
years after the flood,' yet, And the whole earth 

WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE, etc. 

5. R. 'Azariah commenced: We would have healed 
Babylon, but she was not healed (Jer. li, 9) : ' We would have 
healed Babylon' — in the generation of Enosh; 'But she 
was not healed' — in the generation of the Flood. Forsake 
her > and let us go every one into his own country (ib.) — as it 
is written, And the whole earth was of one 

LANGUAGE, etc. 2 

6. And the whole earth was of one 
language and of one speech (ahadim). R. Leazar 
said: That means, of veiled deeds, 3 for the deeds of the 
generation of the Flood are explicitly stated, whereas those 
of the generation of Separation are not explicitly stated. 

And of one speech (ahadim): that means that 
they spoke against two who were unique [lit. 'one'], 

1 The generation of Separation. Though God had saved them from the 

Flood, they returned evil by rebelling against Him. 

* As the narrative ends : And from thence did the Lord scatter them 

tibroad (v. 9) — thus each went 'into his own country* . 

3 This is his translation of deharim ahadim (E.V. 'One speech')- 

3°4 



GENESIS (koach) [XXXVIII. 6 

viz. against Abraham who was one (Ezek. xxxin, 24) and 
against The Lord our God, the Lord is One (Deut. vi, 4). 
Said they: 'This Abraham is a barren mule 1 and cannot 
produce offspring/ Against ' The Lord our God, the Lord is 
One': 'He has no right to choose the celestial spheres 
for Himself and assign us the terrestrial world ! But come, 
let us build a tower at the top of which we will set an idol 
holding a sword in its hand, which will thus appear to wage 
war against Him.' 

Another interpretation: And one speech (ahadim) 
means united in possessions, 2 what one possessed being at 
the other's disposal. The Rabbis said: Of one 
language (safah) may be illustrated by the case of 
a man who had a wine cellar. He opened one barrel and 
found it sour, another and found it sour, and a third and 
found it sour. ' This satisfies (mashpo) me that all the barrels 
are unfit/ he remarked. 3 R. Leazar said: Who is worse — 
the one who says to the king, * Either you or I will dwell in 
the palace,' or the one who says, 'Neither you nor I will 
dwell in the palace ' ? Surely the one who says, * Either you 
or I.' 4 Similarly, the generation of the Flood said, What is the 
Almighty, that we should serve Him? (Job xxi, 15), whereas 
the generation of Separation said: 'It does not rest with 
Him to choose the celestial spheres for Himself and assign 
the terrestrial world to us. Come, rather, and let us build 
a tower at the top of which we will set an idol holding a 
sword, that it may appear to wage war with Him.' 5 Yet 
of the former not a remnant was left, whereas of the latter 
a remnant was left! But because the generation of the 
Flood was steeped in robbery, as it is written, They remove 
the landmarks, they violently take away flocks and feed them 
(tb. xxiv, 2), therefore not a remnant of them was left. 
And since the latter, on the other hand, loved each other, 

1 The mule was held to be incapable of breeding. 

2 So Mah. Y.T.: united in thought. 

8 This is a play on words, safah (language) being connected with skafe, 
to tranquillise, whence to satisfy, as in the text : they convinced God that 
they were uniformly evil. 4 For he means to usurp the king's throne, 
whereas the other wishes to drive him from it but not to usurp it. 
5 Thus they wished to supplant God — a more heinous offence. 

3°5 x 



XXXVIII. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

as it is written, And the whole earth was of one 
language, 1 therefore a remnant of them was left. 2 

Rabbi said: Great is peace, for even if Israel practise 
idolatry but maintain peace amongst themselves, the Holy 
One, blessed be He, says, as it were, ' I have no dominion 
over them ' ; for it is said, Ephraim is united in idol-worship z ; 
let him alone (Hos. iv, 17). But when their hearts are 
divided, what is written ? Their heart is divided; now shall 
they bear their guilt (ib. x, 2). 

Another interpretation : And of one speech 
(ahadim) means that they spoke sharp words (hadim), 
saying, 'Once in one thousand six hundred and fifty-six 
years the Firmament totters ; therefore let us go and make 
supports for it, one in the north, one in the south, one in 
the west, while this spot will be its eastern support.' Thus 
it is written, And all the earth was one 
language of sharp words. 

7. And it came to pass, as they journeyed 
fromtheeas t — m ikk e dem (xi, 2). 4 They travelled 
from further east to nearer east. 5 R. Leazar b. R. Simeon 
interpreted: They betook themselves away from the 
Ancient (kadmon) of the world, saying, 'We refuse to 
accept either Him or His Divinity.' 

That they found a plain. R. Judah said: All 
the nations of the world assembled to discover which plain 
would hold them all, and eventually they found it. R. 
Nehemiah observed :Theyfound: thus it is written, 
If it concerneth the scorners, He permits them to scorn (Job 
ni» 34). 6 

And they dwelt there. R. Isaac said: Wherever 



1 I.e. united. 2 A striking tribute to the value assigned to brotherly 
love and unity by the Rabbis. * E.V. ' Ephraim is joined to idols', 
4 Lit. translation. 

s Th. : Since they came to Shinar (Babylon) which is itself in the east, the 
Rabbis maintain that they travelled from a still more easterly point. 
* E.V. 'He scorneth them'. I.e. God gives all men the opportunity to follow 
their desires, whether good or bad — an assertion of free-will (cf . Yoma 
386; Mah. 10b). Thus here, too, God permitted them to find a spot 
suitable for their purpose. 

306 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVIII. 7-8 

you find dwelling mentioned, Satan becomes active. 1 R. 
Helbo said : Wherever you find contentment, Satan brings 
accusations. 2 R. Levi said: Wherever you find eating and 
drinking, the arch-robber [Satan] cuts his capers [is up to 
mischief]. 3 

8. And they said one to another (xi, 3). Who 
said to whom? Said R. Berekiah: Mizraim said to Cush. 4 

Come, let us make bricks, and burn them 
(we-nisrefah) thoroughly: This is written we- 
nissorfah 5 (and we will be burnt): this people 6 is destined 
to be burnt out of the world. 

And they had brick for stone, etc. R. Huna 
said : Their work prospered : a man came to lay one [stone] 
and he laid two ; he came to piaster one [row] and plastered 
tw T o. 7 

And they said: Come, let us build us a city, 
and a tower (xi, 4). R. Judan said: The tower they 
built, but they did not build the city. An objection is 
raised : But it is written, And the Lord came down to see the 
city and the tower {ib. 5)? Read what follows, he replied: 
And they left off to build the city {ib. 8), the tower, however, 
not being mentioned. R. Hiyya b. Abba said: A third 
of this tower which they built sank [into the earth], a third 
was burnt, while a third is still standing. And should you 
think that it [the remaining third] is small — R. Huna said 
in R. IdTs name: When one ascends to the top, he sees 
the palm trees below him like grasshoppers. 

And let us make a name (shem). The School 
of R. Ishmael taught: Shem (a name) means nought 
else but an idol. 8 

Lest we be scattered abroad upon the face 

1 By mt» the Rabbis understood to live in tranquillity, which rouses 
Satan's ire I 2 So as to disturb it. 

8 R. Levi translates : And they sat down ther e — to eat and 
drink; v. infra, lxxxiv beginning; Ex. R. xli, 7. * V. x, 6. 

5 I.e. the word may be read so with a different punctuation. 

6 I.e. they themselves. 7 The work seemed to grow of itself I He 
translates: And the brick turned itself for them into stone, etc. 

8 Cf. Sanh. 109a. 

3°7 



XXXVIII. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of the whole earth. R. Simeon b. Halputha 
[rlalafta] quoted: A fool's mouth is his ruin (Prov. xviii, 7). 1 

9. And the Lord came down to see, etc. R. 
Simeon b. Yohai said: This is one of the ten descents 
mentioned in the Torah. 2 

Which the children of men (Adam) builded. 
R. Berekiah said : Would we then have thought that asses 
or camels built it ? It means, however, the children of the 
first man [Adam] 3 : Just as Adam, after all the good which 
I bestowed upon him, said, The woman whom Thou gavest 
to he with me, etc. (Gen. hi, i2), 4 so though the generation 
of the Flood [preceded that] of the Separation [by but two 
years, as it is said], ' Two years after the flood* (ib. xi, io), 5 
yet, And the whole earth was of one 

LANGUAGE, etc. 

And the Lord said: Behold, they are one 
people, etc. (xi, 6). R. Judah interpreted it: Since, 
Behold, they are one people and they have 
all one language, 6 if they repent I will accept 
them. R. Nehemiah explained it: What caused them to 
rebel against Me ? Was it not because, Behold, 
they are one people and of one language? 

And now. R. Abba b. Kahana said: This teaches that 
the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them an opportunity 
to repent, for And now indicates repentance, as it 
says, And now, Israel, What doth the Lord thy God require 
of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, etc. (Deut. x, 12). 
But they said, 'No!' — Then let all which they 
purpose to do be withholden from them (xi, 
6), 7 decreed the Lord. When a vineyard does not yield 
fruit, what does its owner do to it ? He uproots it ! 

1 By saying this they unconsciously prophesied their fate and were them- 
selves responsible for it. 2 One of the ten occasions when God came 
down. They are enumerated by Th. 

8 I.e. they showed themselves his spiritual heirs, both being ungrateful. 
4 He made God's very goodness the excuse for his sin. 
fi And the latter might easily have shared their fate. 
* I.e. they live in unity; cf. supra> 6. 

7 R. Abba splits up the verse thus in three portions. E.V.: 'And now 
nothing wiU be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.* 

308 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVII I • IO 

10. Come, let us go down (xi, 7). This is one of 
the things which they 1 altered for King Ptolemy [changing 
it to] 'Come, I will go down, and there confound their 
language. 32 R. Abba interpreted it: Through their own 
lips will I destroy them. 3 Thus one said to his fellow- 
worker, ' Bring me water/ whereupon he would give him 
earth, at which he struck him and split his skull; 'Bring 
me an axe/ but he brought him a spade, at which he struck 
him and split his skull. Thus it is written, Through their 
own lips I will destroy them. 4 

So the Lord scattered them abroad — 
wayyafez (xi, 8). R. Judan said: The Tyrians went to 
Sidon and the Sidonites to Tyre, while Mizraim [Egypt] 
retains his land. 5 R. Nehemiah said: All the countries 
assembled within the angular points and each absorbed 
its own inhabitants. 6 The Rabbis said : Wayyafez 
(scattered) is to be read wayyazef (swept away): 
the sea came up and swept away thirty families. 7 R. 
Phinehas said in R. Levi's name : No misfortune comes to 
a man which does not profit somebody. Whence were those 
thirty families replaced? From Abraham, sixteen from the 
sons of Keturah and twelve from Ishmael, 8 and as for the 
remaining two — And the Lord said unto her : Two nations 
are in thy womb (Gen. xxv, 23). 

1 The translators of the Septuagint. 

2 I.e. the singular instead of the plural — to obviate any idea of plurality 
in the Godhead. Cf . supra, viii, 1 1 . 

8 He reads nablah (E.V. 'confound') as nebalah (meanness, obscenity, 
transf. destruction) and interprets sefatham (E.V. 'their language*) 
as referring to the words of their lips. * The verse is not written 

thus, and this is presumably his comment upon it. 

5 R. Judan and R. Nehemiah who follows both hold that the Separation 
took place after the nations had been apportioned their territories 
subsequently to the Flood, the Separation merely transposing them. 
'While Mizraim (Egypt) retains his land* is obscure, and it is omitted 
in cur. edd. and in Yalkut. 

6 Th. The idea is as though points were taken on the inner borders (i.e. 
those nearest to the Tower of Babel) of all countries and joined by lines 
into a huge figure, and the nations entered within this and withdrew 
each those of its members who had gathered there to build the tower. 
Thus R. Nehemiah holds that the people remained in their own countries 
after the Separation, as they were before they gathered to build the Tower. 

7 The allusion is unknown. 8 V. Gen. xxv, 2-4, 13-15- 

309 



XXXVIII. I I-I3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

11. Therefore was the name of it called 
Babel (xi, 9). A disciple of R. Johanan was sitting before 
him and could not grasp his teaching. 'What is the cause 
of this ? ' he demanded. ' It is because I am exiled from my 
home/ replied he. 'Whence do you come?' inquired he. 
'From Borsif/ he answered. 'Not that is its name/ he 
rejoined, 'but Balsif, in accordance with the text, 
Because there the Lord did confound (balal) 
the language (sefath) of all the earth.' 1 

12. Now these are the generations of Terah. 
Terah begot Abram, etc. (xi, 27). R. Abba b. 
Kahana said: Whoever has his name thus repeated has a 
portion in this world and in the World to Come. They 
raised an objection to him: But it is written, Now 
these are the generations of Terah. Terah 
begot Abram, etc.? That too does not disprove it, 
replied he, for what is the meaning of, But thou [Abraham] 
shalt go to thy fathers in peace (ib. XV, 15)? He [God] 
informed him that his father had a portion in the World to 
Come; Thou shalt be buried in a good old age (ib.): He 
informed him that Ishmael would repent in his own days. 

13. And Haran died in the presence of his 
father Terah (xi, 28). R. Hiyya said: Terah was a 
manufacturer of idols. He once went away somewhere 
and left Abraham to sell them in his place. A man came 
and wished to buy one. 'How old are you?' Abraham 
asked him. 'Fifty years/ was the reply. 'Woe to such a 
man!' he exclaimed, 'you are fifty years old and would 
worship a day-old object ! ' At this he became ashamed and 
departed. On another occasion a woman came with a plate- 
ful of flour and requested him, 'Take this and offer it to 
them/ So he took a stick, broke them, and put the stick 
in the hand of the largest. When his father returned he 

1 Borsif was a city near the site of Babylon, and R. Johanan identified 
it with Babel, remarking at the same time that it should be called Balsif, 
this name being compounded of balal and safah and thus showing its 
origin. 

310 



GENESIS (NOACH) [XXXVIII. 13-14 

demanded, 'What have you done to them?' 'I cannot 
conceal it from you, 5 he rejoined. 'A woman came with a 
plateful of fine meal and requested me to offer It to them. 
One claimed, "I must eat first," while another claimed, 
"I must eat first." Thereupon the largest arose, took the 
stick, and broke them/ 'Why do you make sport of me,' 
he cried out; 'have they then any knowledge!' 'Should 
not your ears listen to what your mouth is saying/ he 
retorted. 1 Thereupon he seized him and delivered him 
to Nimrod. 'Let us worship the fire!' he [Nimrod] pro- 
posed. 'Let us rather worship water, which extinguishes 
the fire/ replied he. 'Then let us worship water!* 'Let us 
rather worship the clouds which bear the water. ' ' Then let 
us worship the clouds ! ' ' Let us rather worship the winds 
which disperse the clouds/ ' Then let us worship the wind F 
' Let us rather worship human beings, who withstand the 
wind/ 'You are just bandying words,' he exclaimed; 'we 
will worship nought but the fire. Behold, I will cast you 
into it, and let your God whom you adore come and save 
you from it/ Now Haran was standing there undecided. 
If Abram is victorious, [thought he], I will say that I am 
of Abram's belief, while if Nimrod is victorious I will say 
that I am on Nimrod' s side. When Abram descended into 
the fiery furnace and was saved, he [Nimrod] asked him, 
'Of whose belief are you?' 'Of Abram's/ he replied. 
Thereupon he seized and cast him into the fire ; his inwards 
were scorched and he died in his father's presence. Hence 
it is written, And Haran died in the presence 
of ('al pene) his father Terah. 2 

14. And Abram and Nahor took them wives, 
etc. (xi, 29 f.). Abram was a year older than Nahor and 
Nahor was a year older than Haran; [hence Abram was] 
two years older [than Haran]; [now deduct] the year of 
pregnancy with Milcah and the year of pregnancy with 
Iscah, and you find that Haran begot children at six years 

1 You deny their knowledge and yet you worship them ! 

* The Rabbis translate * 'al pene' 'because of * : he died because his father 

manufactured idols. 

3" 



XXXVIII. 14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

of age, yet you say that Abram could not beget a child! 
[The reason, however, was] : And Sarai was 
barren; she had no child (ib. 30). 1 

R. Levi said : Wherever ' she had not ' is found, it means 
that eventually she did have. Thus : And Sarai was 
barren; she had no child: eventually she did have, 
as it is written, And the Lord remembered Sarah (Gen. 
xxi, 1). And Peninah had children, but Hannah had no 
children (1 Sam. I, 2): eventually she did have, as it is 
written, And she bore three sons, etc. (ib. 11, 21). Again, 
She is Zion, there is none that careth for her (Jer. xxx, 17). 
Yet eventually she will have [one to care for her, as it is 
written], And a redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them 
that turn from transgression, etc. (Isa. lix, 20). 

1 According to the Rabbis, Iscah was Sarah. Now Abram was ten years 
older than Sarah (v. xvn, 17); since he was two years older then Haran, 
Sarah's father, Sarah was bom when Haran was only eight years old. 
Again, she was his second daughter, and since the period of pregnancy 
and child-bearing is roughly a year for each child, Haran must have been 
six years old when he begot a child, i.e. when his wife conceived by him. 
The point of the difficulty, * and yet you say that Abram could not beget 
child/ is not clear, -iht^k *arn mvu says: If Haran, an unbeliever, could 
beget children at such an early age, surely it should have been granted 
to Abram to beget children ! The Midrash answers that the fault was not 
in Abram but in Sarai, who was barren, nsrn ,, -p gives a rather more 
plausible explanation which, however, does not fit in so well with the text. 



312 



[XXXIX. i-3 

Chapter XXXIX 
LECH LECHA 

i. Now the Lord said unto Abram: Get thee 
out of thy country, etc. (xn, i). R. Isaac com- 
menced his discourse with, Hearken, O daughter, and con- 
sider > and incline thine ear ; forget also thine own people, 
and thy father's house (Ps. xlv, u). Said R. Isaac: This 
may be compared to a man who was travelling from place 
to place when he saw a building in flames. 1 Is it possible 
that the building lacks a person to look after it? he 
wondered. The owner of the building looked out and 
said, 'I am the owner of the building/ Similarly, because 
Abraham our father said, ' Is it conceivable that the world 
is without a guide?' the Holy One, blessed be He, looked 
out and said to him, ' I am the Guide, the Sovereign of the 
Universe/ So shall the king desire thy beauty (ib. 12): 
i.e. to make thee glorious in the world. For he is thy Lord, 
and do homage unto him (ib.) : hence, The Lord said 
unto Abraham: Get thee, etc. 

2. R. Berekiah commenced: Thine ointments have a 
goodly fragrance (S.S. 1, 3). Said R. Berekiah: What did 
Abraham resemble? A phial of myrrh closed with a tight- 
fitting lid and lying in a corner, so that its fragrance was 
not disseminated; as soon as it was taken up, however, its 
fragrance was disseminated. Similarly, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, said to Abraham: 'Travel from place to 
place, and thy name will become great in the world': 
hence, Get thee, etc. 

3. R. Berekiah commenced: We have a little sister — 
ahoth (ib. viii, 8): this refers to Abraham, who united 
(ihah) the whole world for us. 2 Bar Kappara observed: 

1 Similarly Abraham saw the world being destroyed by the flames of 
vice and wrongdoing. 

* By proclaiming the unity and oneness of God, the corollary of which is 
the unity and brotherhood of man. This and the following are assumed 
to be said by God to the angels (Th.). 

313 



XXXIX. 3-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Like a person who sews a rent together. 'Little': even 
while young he stored up pious acts and good deeds. And 
she hath no breasts (ib.): no breasts suckled him 1 in piety 
or good deeds. What shall we do for our sister in the day 
when she shall be spoken for (ib.) ? i.e. on the day when the 
wicked Nimrod ordered him to be cast into the fiery 
furnace. If she be a wall, we will build upon her (ib. 9) : 
if he resists [Nimrod] like a wall, He [God] 2 will build up 
[a defence] for him. 3 And if she be a door (deleth), we will 
enclose (nazur) her with boards of cedar (ib.) : if he is poor 
(dal) in piety and noble deeds, ' We will enclose (nazur) her 
with boards of cedar ' : and just as a drawing (zurah) [on 
boards] is only temporary, 4 so will I protect him only for 
a time. Said he [Abraham] to Him: 'Sovereign of the 
Universe! / am a wall (ib. 10): I stand as firm as a wall; 
And my breasts like the towers thereof (ib.): my sons are 
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.' Then was I in his eyes as 
one that found peace (ib.) : he entered [the fiery furnace] in 
peace and left it unscathed : hence, Now the Lord 
said unto Abram: Get thee. 

4. Wisdom maketh a wise man stronger than ten rulers 
(Eccl. vii, 19) 5 : this refers to Abraham, [whom wisdom 
made stronger] than the ten generations from Noah to 
Abraham ; out of all of them I spoke to thee alone, as it is 
written, Now the Lord said unto Abraham. 6 

5. R. 'Azariah commenced: We would have healed 
Babylon, but she was not healed (Jer. li, 9). ' We would have 
healed Babylon ' — in the generation of Enosh ; ' But she was 
not healed' — in the generation of the Flood; Forsake her, 
and let us go every one into his country (ib.), as it is written, 
Now the Lord said unto Abram: Get thee. 7 



1 He had none from whom to draw inspiration. a Var. lee.: we. 

3 Will save him — that is the probable meaning of the passage. Mah. 
translates: a world will be built upon him — he shall be the ancestor of 
a new order. 

4 It is easily rubbed off. He translates : We will treat her like a drawing. 

5 E.V. ' Wisdom is a stronghold to a wise man more than ten rulers that are 
in a city'. 6 Cf. supra, xxxiv, 5. 7 Supra, xxxvill, 5. 

3H 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. 6-7 

6. R. 'Azariah commenced in R. Aha's name thus: Thou 
hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness, etc. (Ps. 
XLV, 8). R. 'Azariah in R. Aha's name referred the verse 
to our father Abraham. When Abraham our father stood 
to plead for mercy for the Sodomites, what is written there ? 
That be far from Thee to do after this manner (Gen. xvm, 
25). R. Aha explained this : Thou hast sworn not to bring 
a deluge upon the world. Wouldst Thou evade Thine 
oath! Not a deluge of water wilt Thou bring but a deluge 
of fire? Then Thou hast not been true to Thine oath. 
R. Levi commented: Shalt not the Judge of all the earth do 
justly (ib.) ? If thou desirest the world to endure, there can 
be no absolute justice, 1 while if Thou desirest absolute 
justice the world cannot endure, yet Thou wouldst hold 
the cord by both ends, desiring both the world and 
absolute justice. Unless Thou forgoest a little, the world 
cannot endure. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to 
Abraham : ' Thou hast loved righteousness , and hated wicked- 
ness 2 ; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the 
oil of gladness above thy fellows (ib.): from Noah until thee 
were ten generations, and out of all of them I spoke with 
thee alone'; hence, Now the Lord said unto 
Abraham. 

7. Now what precedes this passage ? And Terah died in 
Haran (ib. xi, 32), [which is followed by] Now the 
Lord said unto Abram: Get thee (lek leka). 
R. Isaac said: From the point of view of chronology a 
period of sixty-five years is still required. 3 But first you 
may learn that the wicked, even during their lifetime, are 
called dead. 4 For Abraham was afraid, saying, 'Shall I go 

1 I.e. justice untempered by mercy. * Translating: Thou hast loved 

to justify (thy fellowmen), and hated to condemn them as -wicked. 
* To bring the narrative to the death of Terah. For Terah was seventy 
years old at Abram's birth (Gen. xi, 26), whilst Abram departed from 
Haran at the age of seventy-five (ib. xn, 4); hence Terah, whose age at 
death was two hundred and five {ib. xi, 32), died sixty-five years after 
this command, and yet it is narrated before. 

4 Hence Terah is already in his Hfetime called dead. (Though it is stated 
supra, xxxvin, 12, that he repented, presumably this was much later.) 

315 



XXXIX. J~8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

out and bring dishonour upon the Divine Name, as people 
will say, " He left his father in his old age and departed ** ? n 
Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, reassured him: 
C I exempt thee (ieka) from the duty of honouring thy 
parents, though I exempt no one else from this duty. 2 
Moreover, I will record his death before thy departure/ 
Hence, 'And Terah died in Haran 1 is stated first, and then, 
Now the Lord said unto Abram, etc. 

8. Get thee (lek leka). R. Judah said: 'Lek 
ieka 1 (Go, go) 3 is written twice, one passage [referring to 
his departure] from Aram Naharaim, and the other [to 
his departure] from Aram Nahor. R. Nehemiah said: 
'Lek leka' is written twice, one passage [referring to his 
departure] from Aram Naharaim and Aram Nahor, and 
the other intimating that He made him fly from the 
Covenant between the pieces 4 and brought him to Haran. 5 

It is written : Thy people ('ammeka) offer themselves 
willingly (nedaboth) in the day of thy warfare (heleka), etc. 
(Ps. ex, 3). This means: I was with thee {'immeka) when 
thou didst willingly offer (nadabtd) for My name's sake to 
enter the fiery furnace. 6 'In the day of thy warfare 3 [lit. 
'retinue']; when thou didst bring Me all those bands. 7 
In the mountains 8 of holiness : from the ancient mountain did 



1 This is one of the most important teachings of Judaism : a wrongful 
deed dishonours one's faith and one's God. 

2 This is deduced from the emphasis Get thee (lek leka), 
where lek (' go *) alone would have sufficed. 

3 Leka (E.V. 'thee') may mean 'go*; cf. Num. xxni, 13: Come (leka), 
/ pray thee. * V. Gen. xv. 

6 It is stated in Ex, xii, 41, that the Exodus took place at the end of 430 

years, which can be proved, by comparing various figures mentioned in 

the Bible, to mean 430 years after the Covenant with Abraham ; and this 

figure can be right only if Abraham was then 70 years old. Thus it 

precedes his departure from Haran, though it is recorded later. (The 

400 years mentioned in the Covenant are calculated from Isaac's birth, 

30 years later.) Therefore the Midrash states that God made him fly 

from the Covenant of the parts to Haran. 

• The Hebrew may be made to mean this by a mere change of 

punctuation. 

' Abraham's faith in the hour of trial won many converts. 

8 nVD. Our edd. of the Bible read vnna, in the adornments. 

316 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. 8 

I sanctify thee. 1 From the womb of the dawn — merehem 
mishehar (jb.): from out of the womb of the world 2 have 
I sought thee (shihartika) for Me. Thine is the dew of thy 
youth (ib.) : because Abraham was afraid and said to him- 
self, 'Perhaps I bear guilt for having worshipped idols 
all these years,' God reassured him: ' Thine is the dew of 
thy youth*: even as dew evaporates, so have thy sins 
evaporated [disappeared] ; as dew is a sign of blessing to 
the world, so art thou a sign of blessing to the world. 

It is written: And I said: Oh thai I had wings like a 
dove! Then I would fly away, and be at rest (Ps. lv, y). 
Why like a dove? Said R. 'Azariah in the name of R. Judan 
b. R. Simon: Because all other birds, when tired, rest on 
a rock or a tree, but when a dove is tired she draws in one 
of her wings 3 and fhes on with the other. 4 Lo, then I would 
wander far ojf(ib. 8) : exile after exile, journey after journey. 
I* would lodge in the wilderness. Selah (ib.) : better is it to 
lodge in the deserts of Eretz Israel than in palaces abroad. 5 
And should you object, if he [Abraham] had no qualms 
but rejoiced [to go to Eretz Israel], 6 why did he not emigrate 
[sooner] ? Because he had not yet been permitted ; but as 
soon as he was permitted, it is written, So Abram went> 
as the Lord had spoken unto him, and Lot went with him 
(Gen. xii, 4). 

R. Levi said: When Abraham was travelling through 
Aram Naharaim and Aram Nahor, he saw its inhabitants 
eating and drinking and revelling. 'May my portion not 
be in this country ! ' he exclaimed. But when he reached the 
promontory of Tyre and saw them engaged in weeding 
and hoeing at the proper seasons, he exclaimed, 'Would 
that my portion might be in this country I ' Said the Holy 

1 Tfcu: this may mean the mountain of Moriah out of which, according 
to tradition, the world was made to grow. 

2 This may mean either the Mount of Moriah (v. preceding note), or, 
from the very creation of the world. 3 To her body and rests on it. 

* Thus Israel, even when exhausted by persecution, still endeavour to 
progress. 5 This is a comment on 'Get thee\ i.e. 'Go for thine own 
sake *, Eretz Israel being so much superior. 

• The translation is only a conjecture, but certainly gives the general 
meaning of the passage. 

3*7 



XXXIX. 8-10] MIDRASH RABBAH 

One, blessed be He, to him: Unto thy seed have I given this 
land {ib. xv, 18). 

9. R. Levi said: ' Get thee 7 is written twice, 1 and we 
do not know w T hich was more precious [in the eyes of 
God], whether the first or the second. 2 

R. Johanan said : Get thee out of thy 
country means, from thy province; And from thy 
kindred — from the place where thou art settled; 
And from thy father's house — literally, thy 
father's house. Unto the land that I will show 
thee: why did He not reveal it to him [there and then]? 
In order to make it more beloved in his eyes and to reward 
him for every step he took. This agrees with another 
teaching of R. Johanan, for R. Johanan said: And he said: 
Take now thy son (ib. xxn, 2) — 'which one?' 'Thine only 
son.' 'Each is the only one of his mother?' ' Whom thou 
lovest.' 'I love them both: are there limits to one's 
emotions?' Said He to him: ' Even Isaac.' And why did 
He not reveal it to him [without delay] ? In order to make 
him even more beloved in his eyes and reward him for 
every word spoken, for R. Huna said in R. Eliezer's name: 
The Holy One, blessed be He, first places the righteous 
in doubt and suspense, and then He reveals to them the 
meaning of the matter. Thus it is written, To the 
land that I will shew thee; Upon one of the 
mountains which I will tell thee of (ib.) ; And make unto it 
the proclamation that I bid thee (Jonah Hi, 2) ; Arise, go 
forth into the plain, and I will there speak with thee (Ezek. 
in, 22). 

10. R. Berekiah b. R. Simon said in R. Nehemiah's 
name : This may be illustrated by a king who was passing 
from place to place, when a gem fell from his head. Where- 
upon the king halted and stationed his retinue there, 
gathered the sand in piles, and brought sieves. He sifted 



1 Once here, and again when he was commanded to go and sacrifice 
Isaac (Gen. xxn, 2). z This is apparently incomplete; v. infra, lv, 7. 

318 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. IO-II 

the first pile but did not find it ; the second but did not 
find it; but in the third he found it. Said they: "The king 
has found his pearl/ Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be 
He, said to Abraham: 'What need had I to trace the 
descent of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, 
Serug, Nahor, and Terah? Was it not on thy account?' 1 
Thus it is written, And foundest his heart [Abraham's] 
faithful before Thee (Neh. ix, 8). 2 In like manner God said 
to David: 'What need had I to trace the descent of Perez, 
Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nachshon, Shalmon, Boaz, 
Obed, and Jesse ? Was it not on thy account ? ' Hence it is 
written, I have found David My servant; with My holy oil 
have I anointed him (Ps. lxxxix, 21). 

II. AND I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION 

(xii, 2). Said he to Him: 'Yet hast Thou not caused the 
seventy nations to spring from Noah?' 3 He replied: 'That 
nation of which it is written, For what great nation is there, 
that hath God so nigh unto them (Deut. iv, 7), them will I 
raise up from thee/ 

R. Berekiah said : It is not written, 'And I will give thee/ 
or 'And I will set thee,' 4 but, And I will make 
thee: i.e. after I have created thee as a new creation 5 
thou wilt be fruitful and multiply. 

R. Levi b. Ahyatha and R. Abba said: Thrice is 'great- 
ness' mentioned here, and 'blessings' four times 6 : He 
thus informed him that there would be three Patriarchs 
and four Matriarchs. 

R. Berekiah said: Because travelling has three adverse 

1 All this led up to thee. 2 He was the pearl that God found. 
s Seventy was thought to comprise all the possible nations — how then 
could another arise now? Or, wherein is my greatness? From Noah 
Thou hast raised seventy nations, but from me only one (Mah., Y.T.). 
* *pr« and ■p't&K respectively: both these words could be used in 
the required sense. 

5 This may refer either to his circumcision or to his change of name to 
Abraham, through both of which he may have been regarded as a new 
creation. 

6 V. xii, 2 f . Actually ' greatness * is only mentioned twice. Some explain 
that 'I will make thee' counts as one; others include Gen. xvni, 18: 
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation. 

3*9 



XXXIX. Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

effects, diminishing procreation, and reducing one's 
wealth and one's fame, [God gave him counter assurances]. 
Since it diminishes procreation [He said to him], And 
I will make of thee A great nation; it decreases 
one's wealth, hence, And I will bless thee; it 
diminishes one's name [fame], hence, And make 
thy name great. And though the proverb says, 
'When you travel from one house to another, you lose a 
shirt; from one country to another, you lose a life,' 1 yet 
in truth thou wilt lose neither life nor property. 

R. Berekiah said in R. Helbo's name: It 2 means that 
his coinage was current in the world. There were four 
whose coinage became current in the world : (i) Abraham, 
as it is written, And I will make of thee, etc. 
And what effigy did his coinage bear ? An old man and an 
old woman on one side, and a boy and a girl on the other. 3 
(ii) Joshua, as it is written, So the Lord was with Joshua, 
and his fame was in all the land (Josh, vi, 27), which means 
that his coinage was current in the world. And what was its 
effigy ? An ox on one side and a wild-ox on the other, corre- 
sponding to, His firstling bullock, majesty is his, and his 
horns are the horns of a wild-ox (Deut. xxxiii, 17). 4 (iii) 
David, as it is written, And the fame of David went out into 
all the lands (1 Chron. xiv, 17), which means that his 
coinage was current. And what was its effigy? A staff and 
a wallet on one side, 5 and a tower on the other, corre- 
sponding to, Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded 
with turrets (S.S. iv, 4). (iv) Mordecai, as it is written, 
For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame 
went forth throughout all the provinces (Est. IX, 4) — this 
too means that his coinage was current. And what was its 
effigy ? Sackcloth and ashes on one side and a golden crown 
on the other. 6 

1 Even a short distance causes some loss, while in a long journey a member 
of the household may easily die through the danger and fatigues of the 
road. 2 The promise of greatness. 

* I.e. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah. 

* This refers to Joseph, from whom Joshua was descended. 
s Indicating that he was originally a shepherd. 

6 Cf. Est. iv, 1; viii, 15. 

320 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. II 

R. Isaac said : [God promised Abraham] : ' I will set thee 
as a blessing in the Eighteen [Benedictions]. 1 Yet thou dost 
not know whether Mine is first or thine is first.' 2 Said R. 
Aha in R. Ze'ira's name : Thine is before Mine ; after having 
recited 'the shield of Abraham 3 , we then recite 'who 
resurrectest the dead.' 3 

[And I will make thy name great; this means, 
I will add the letter he to thy name.] 4 R. Abbahu commented 
thereon : It is not written, ' Look now hashamayim ' (at the 
heaven), but, Look now hashamaymah — E.V. 'toward 
heaven' (Gen. xv, 5) 5 : with this he I created the world 6 ; 
behold, I will add it to thy name, and then thou wilt be 
fruitful and multiply. R. Judan said: The numerical value 
of the letters of thy name will equal those of w a - 

ABAREKEKA (AND I WILL BLESS THEE): jUSt as WA- 

abarekeka amounts to two hundred and forty-eight, so 
do the letters of thy name amount to two hundred and 
forty-eight. 7 

R. Levi said: No man ever priced a cow belonging to 
Abraham [in order to buy it] without becoming blessed, 
nor did a man ever price a cow [to sell] to him without his 
becoming blessed. Abraham used to pray for barren 
women, and they were remembered [i.e. they conceived] ; 
and on behalf of the sick, and they were healed. R. Huna 
said: It was not necessary for Abraham to go to the sick 
person, for when the sick person merely saw him he was 
relieved. R. Etanina said: Even ships travelling the sea 

1 The principal part of the daily service. This is R. Isaac's comment on 
And be thou a blessing. 

2 One of the eighteen is called ' aboth \ the patriarchs, the blessing referred 
to here ; another is termed 'geburotk ' (strength), in which mention is made 
of God's strength in bringing rain and resurrecting the dead; this is 
referred to here as ' Mine*. The verse Andbethouablessing 
does not indicate which of these two takes precedence. 

3 The concluding formulas of 'aboth' and ' geburoth* (v.n. 2.) respectively. 
Presumably he translates : ' and be thou the first of the blessings/ 

* The bracketed sentence has probably fallen out of the text. Radal 
and Th. s I.e. mraem with a n (he) at the end of the word instead 

of D-wn. 8 V. supra, xn, io. 

7 -prinKi actually = 249. Th. assumes that he reads rconuci with 
a he (= 5) at the end, but omits the conjunctive wow at the beginning; 
this gives the required 248. 

321 Y 



XXXIX. 11-12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

were saved for Abraham's sake. But did they not contain 
forbidden wine? 1 [There is a proverb]: 'Vinegar cheapens 
wine ' : 2 wherever Gentile wine is available, Jewish wine is 
cheap. R. Isaac said: To Job too He did thus, as it is 
written, Thou hast blessed the work of his hands (Job I, 10) : 
no man who took a farthing from Job had to take a second 
one from him. 

And be thou a blessing (berakah): this means, 
be thou a herekah (pool) : just as a pool purifies the unclean, 
so do thou bring near [to Me] those who are afar. 

R. Berekiah said: Seeing that it is already written, 
And I will bless thee, why is And be thou a 
blessing added? He [God] said to him: 'Hitherto, 
/ had to bless My world; henceforth the blessings are 
entrusted to thee: whom it pleases thee to bless, do thou 
bless/ 

12. AND I WILL BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE 

(xii, 3). R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said : The Holy One, blessed 
be He, was stricter in defence of the honour of the righteous 
than of His own honour. For in respect to His own honour 
it is written, For them that honour Me I will honour, and 
they that despise Me shall be disgraced (1 Sam. 11, 30), 
which means through others; whereas concerning the 
honour of the righteous it is written, And I will 

BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE, AND HIM THAT 
CURSETH THEE WILL I CURSE — I Myself. 

It was taught 3 : At these benedictions one must bow: 
at the beginning and end of the first, and at the beginning 
and end of ' We give thanks' ; and if a man bows at each 
benediction, he must be instructed to refrain. R. Isaac b. 
R. Nahman said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: The 
High Priest bows at the beginning of each benediction, and 
a king must bow at the beginning and the end of each 
benediction. R. Simon said in the name of R. Joshua b. 
Levi: Once he [the king] had bent the knee, he did not 

1 l.e. these ships carried forbidden cargoes; what was the purpose then 
of saving them ? 2 An abundance of vinegar, which may also be drunk, 
reduces the demand for wine and thus cheapens it. s Ber. 34a. 

322 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. 12-13 

straighten himself until he finished his entire prayer, as it 
is written, And it was so, that when Solomon had made an 
end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, 
he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on 
his knees, etc. (i Kings vm, 54). What is ken' ah and what is 
berikah? 1 R. Etfyya the elder showed Rabbi the action of 
keri'ah, and became lame, but was subsequently healed, 
Levi b. Susi showed Rabbi the action of keri' ah; he became 
lame and was not healed. 

And in thee shall be blessed: rain and dew 
shall come for thy sake. 

Now it is written, And the thing became known to 
Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen, etc. (Est. 11, 
22): he [Mordecai] was circumcised while the other 
[Ahasuerus] was uncircumcised, yet he had pity on him 2 ! 
R. Judah quoted : From my elders I receive understanding 
(Ps. cxix, 100) : He [Mordecai] reasoned thus : Jacob blessed 
Pharaoh, as it is written, And Jacob blessed Pharaoh (Gen. 
xlvii, 7); moreover, did not Joseph reveal his dreams to 
him, and did not Daniel reveal his dreams to Nebuchad- 
nezzar? So I too; hence, l And he told it unto Esther the 
queen.'* R. Nehemiah said: The Holy One, blessed be He, 
said to Abraham: And in thee shall all the 

FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED. Now if that is 

meant in respect of wealth, they are surely wealthier than 
we ! But it was meant in respect of counsel : when they get 
into trouble they ask our advice, and we give it to them. 

13. SO ABRAM WENT, AS THE LORD HAD SPOKEN 

unto him; And Lot went with him (xii, 4): Lot 
was merely joined on with him. 

And Abram was seventy and five years old. 
Thus it is written, And he brought up Hadassah (Est. 11, 7). 
Rab said: She was forty years old 4 ; Samuel said: She was 

1 Both denote a form of bending the knee, but in different ways. 

* This is a question : why did Mordecai care about the conspiracy of 

Bigthan and Teresh against Ahasuerus (v. v. 21 ad loc.)} 

8 The question is rhetorical, its purpose being to show the Jewish attitude 

of loyalty to his country of domicile. * When chosen by Ahasuerus. 

323 



XXXIX. 13-15] MIDRASH RABBAH 

eighty years old; the Rabbis of that place [i.e. Babylonia] 
said : She was seventy-five years old. R. Berekiah observed 
in the name of the Rabbis : The Holy One, blessed be He, 
assured Abraham: 'Thou didst leave thy father's house 
when seventy-five years old; by thy life, the redeemer 
whom I will raise up from thee shall be seventy-five years 
old/ this being the numerical value of Hadassah. 1 

14. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot 
their brother's son, and all their substance 
which they had gathered, and the souls that 
they had made 2 in Haran (xii, 5). R. Leazar 
observed in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra : If all the nations 
assembled to create one insect they could not endow it 
with life, yet you say, And the souls that they 
had made! It refers, however, to the proselytes [which 
they had made]. Then let it say, 'That they had converted ' ; 
why That they had made? That is to teach you 
that he who brings a Gentile near [to God] is as though he 
created him. Now let it say, 'That he had made'; why 
That they had made? Said R. Ilunia: Abraham 
converted the men and Sarah the women. 3 

15. And Abram passed through the land 
unto the place of shechem . . . and the 
Canaanite WAS THEN IN THE land (xn, 6): so far 
they still had a right in the land. 4 

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and 
said: Unto thy seed will I give this land; 
and he builded there an altar (xii, 7): what is 
stated here is on account of the good tidings about Eretz 
Israel. 5 

And he removed from thence unto the 



1 noin: n (5) ■+• 1 (4) -f d (60) + n ($) = 74, to which the word as a 
whole is added, making 75. 

2 Lit. translation. E.V. 'gotten*. s Cf. infra, lxxxiv, 4. 

4 Their measure of sin was not yet full, that they should be expelled 
from the country; cf. Gen. xv, 16. 

5 It was on that account that he built the altar. 

324 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XXXIX. 15-16 
MOUNTAIN ON THE EAST OF (MI-KEDEM) BETH-EL 

(xii, 8): originally it was called Beth-el (house of God), 
but now it is called Beth-awen (house of iniquity). 1 R. 
Liezer said: He who does not merit being called ben 
he-amal is called ben he-amad? R. Isaac b. Nahman said: 
There [in Palestine] a good worker is called 'amela 
(industrious), while urine-soaked dung is called 'amidah. 

And pitched his tent (ahalo). R. Hanina said: 
Ahalah (her tent) is written 3 ; after having pitched Sarah's 
tent he pitched his own. 4 

16. And he builded there an altar unto the 
Lord (xii, 16). R. Leazar said: He built three altars: 
one on account of the good tidings about Eretz Israel, 
another for his possession thereof, 5 and a third [as a prayer] 
that his descendants might not fall at Ai, as it is written, 
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his 
face before the Ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the 
elders of Israel, and they put dust upon their heads (Josh, vii, 
6). R. Leazar b. Shamua* said: They began recalling the 
merit of our father Abraham, who said, i" am but dust and 
ashes (Gen. xvm, 27); did then Abraham build Thee an 
altar at Ai for aught but that his children should not fall 
there ! 

And called upon the name of the Lord: with 
prayer. Another interpretation of And called: he 
began to make converts. 6 

And Abram journeyed, going on still to- 
ward the south (xii, 9): he drew a course and 
journeyed toward the [future] site of the Temple. 

1 ' Mi-kedem' is translated: in former times; cf. Josh, vn, 2. 

2 ' Amal : toil ; 'amad — heap of dung : he who does not earn for himself 

the epithet, a toiler in the Torah, earns for himself the other epithet. 

8 Though vocalised ahalo, his tent. 

* A deft touch, showing the honour paid in Judaism to women. 

5 V. xni, 17. I.e. that he might possess Eretz Israel for the merit of 
having built this altar. 

6 Translating: and he summoned people to the name (i.e. glory) of the 
Lord. 



3 2 5 



XL. 1-3] 

Chapter XL (LECH LECHA) 

1. And there was a famine in the land, etc. 
(xn, 10). It is written, Behold, the eye of the Lord is toward 
them that fear him (Ps. xxxm, 18) : this alludes to Abraham, 
of whom it is written, For now I know that thou art a God- 
fearing man (Gen. xxn, 12). Toward them that wait for His 
mercy (Ps. loc. cit.): thus it is written, Thou wilt show 
faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham (Micah vn, 20). 
To deliver their soul from death (Ps. xxxm, 19): from the 
death decreed by Nimrod. 1 And to keep them alive in famine 
(#.): thus it is written, And there was a famine 
in the land; and Abram went down into 
Egypt to sojourn there. 

2. R. Phinehas commenced his discourse in the name of 
R. Hanan of Sepphoris: Happy is the man whom Thou 
chastisest, O Lord (Ps. xciv, 12): yet should he object, 2 
then, 'And teachest out of Thy law' (ib.): what is written 
of Abraham? And I will bless thee, and make thy name great 
(Gen. xn, 2). As soon as he set out, famine assailed him, 
yet he did not protest nor murmur against Him, but, 
And Abram went down into Egypt, etc. 

R. Joshua b. Levi commenced thus: He hath given 
teref [E.V. 'food'] unto them that fear Him; He will be 
ever mindful of His covenant (Ps. cxi, 5). Said R. Joshua b. 
Levi: In this world He hath given wanderings (tiruf) unto 
them that fear Him; but in the Messianic future, 'He will 
be ever mindful of His covenant.' For what is written of 
Abram? ' And I will bless thee, and make thy name great* 
(Gen. xn, 2). As soon as he set out, famine assailed him, 
yet he did not protest nor murmur against Him, but, 
And there was a famine in the land, etc. 3 

3. And there was a famine in the land, etc. 
Ten famines have come upon the earth. One in the days of 

1 V. supra, xxxvin, 13. 2 Calling God's justice into question. 
8 I.e. he retained his faith and went on to Egypt. 

326 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XL. 3 

Adam: Cursed is the ground for thy sake {ib. 111, 17); one 
in the days of Lamech: Which cometh from the ground 
which the Lord hath cursed {ib. v, 29) ; one in the days of 
Abraham: And there was a famine in the land; 
one in the days of Isaac: And there was famine in the land, 
beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham 
{ib. xxvi, 1) ; one in the days of Jacob : For these two years 
hath the famine been in the land {ib. xlv, 6) ; one in the days 
when the judges judged: And it came to pass in the days 
that the judges judged, that there was a famine in the land 
(Ruth 1, 1); one in the days of David: And there was a 
famine in the days of David (11 Sam. xxi, i) ; one in the days 
of Elijah: As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom 
I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years (1 Kings 
xvii, 6); one in the days of Elisha: And there was a great 
famine in Samaria (11 Kings VI, 25) ; and there is one famine 
that travels about the world, and one will be in the 
Messianic future — Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for 
water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos vm, 1 1). 
R. Huna and R. Jeremiah in the name of R. Samuel b. 
Isaac said: The proper time for its manifestation was in 
the days of David, and it ought really to have come in the 
days of Saul, but because Saul was the shoot of a sycamore 
tree, the Holy One, blessed be He, postponed it and 
brought it in the days of David. Shila sins and Johana is 
punished! Said R. Hiyya: Imagine a glass-worker holding 
a basket full of goblets and cut glass ; when he wished to 
hang the basket up, he brought a nail and drove it [into 
the wall], and held on to it while he hung up his basket. 
For that reason all these [famines] came not in the days of 
lowly [weak] men but in the days of the mighty ones, who 
could withstand it. R. Berekiah applied to them the verse, 
He giveth power to the faint (Isa. xl, 29). R. Berekiah said 
in R. Helbo's name : There were two famines in the days of 
Abraham. R. Huna said in R. Aha's name: There was one 
in the days of Lamech and one in the days of Abraham. The 
famine of Elijah's time was one of scarcity, one year being 
productive and the next year unproductive. The famine 
in the days of Elisha was one of panic, Until an ass's head 

3*7 



XL. 3-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, etc. (11 Kings vi, 25). 
As for the famine during the days of the judges, R. Huna 
said in R. Dosa's name: From the price of two se'ahs 
[of wheat per sela ( ] it advanced to one se'ah [per sela'], 
whereas it was taught: A man must not emigrate abroad 
unless two se'ahs cost a sela'. R. Simeon observed: That is 
only when it is altogether unobtainable, but if it is obtain- 
able, even at a se'ah per sela 1 : , one must not go abroad. 1 

4. And itcame to pass, when hewas come 
near to enter into Egypt, etc. (xn, 11). She was 
with him all these years, yet now he says to her, Be- 
hold, NOW I KNOW THAT THOU ART A FAIR 
woman to look upon! The reason, however, is 
because travelling takes toll of one's beauty. 2 R. 'Azariah 
said in the name of R. Judah b. R. Simon: [Abraham said 
to Sarah:] We have traversed Aram Naharaim and Aram 
Nahor and not found a woman as beautiful as you; now 
that we are entering a country whose inhabitants are 
swarthy and ugly, Say, I pray thee, thou art my 
sister, that it may be well with me for thy 
sake, etc. (ib. 13). 

R. Phinehas said in the name of R. Reuben: Two 
people were principal actors and yet made themselves 
subordinate, viz. Abraham and Barak. Barak, as it is written, 
And she sent and called Barak . . . And Barak said unto 
her : If thou wilt go with me, then I will go ; but if thou wilt 
not go with me, I will not go (Judg. iv, 6 ff.). R. Judah 
explained : If thou wilt go with me to Kadesh, 3 I will go 
with thee against Hazor 4 ; whilst if thou wilt not go with 
me to Kadesh, I will not go with thee against Hazor. 
R. Nehemiah explained it: If thou wilt go with me in 
Song, 5 I will go with thee to battle; but if thou wilt not 
go with me in Song, I will not go with thee to battle. And 

1 For notes v. supra, xxv, 3. 2 Lit. 'through journeying a person 

becomes despised' — but Sarah retained her beauty. 

8 To summon the warriors of Zebulun and Naphtali ; v. 9 f . 

* I.e. against Jabin who reigned in Hazor; v. 2. Y.T. suggests that Hazor 

is an error for Tabor. 

6 If you undertake to join me in singing praises to God; v. Judg. v. 

328 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XL. 4-5 

she said; I will surely go with thee, notwithstanding (efes) the 
journey that thou takest shall not be for thy honour (ib. 9). 
R. Reuben said: [Efes] is a Greek word, as though to say 
hafes (let alone).* Said she to him: 'What thinkest thou? 
that the glory for the Song shall be given to thee alone!* 
He retired into the second place, as it is written, Then 
sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam, etc. (ib, v, i). 2 
Abraham was the principal, as it is written, And Abram 
took Sarai his wife (Gen. xn, 5), but he made himself of 
secondary importance, saying, Say, I pray thee, 
thou art my sister, whereupon he really became 
subordinate to her, as it is written, And he dealt well with 
Abram for her sake (ib. 16). 

5. And it came to pass, that, when Abram 
was coming into Egypt, etc. (xn, 14). And where 
was Sarah ? He had put her in a box and locked her in it. 
When he came to the customs-house, he [the customs 
officer] demanded, 'Pay the custom dues/ 'I will pay/ 
he replied. 'You carry garments in that box, 7 said he. 
'I will pay the dues on garments/ 'You are carrying silks/ 
he asserted. 'I will pay on silks/ 'You are carrying precious 
stones/ 'I will pay on precious stones/ 'It is imperative 
that you open it and we see what it contains/ he insisted. 
As soon as he opened it the land of Egypt was irradiated 
with her lustre [beauty]. R. 'Azariah and R. Jonathan in 
R. Isaac's name said: Eve's image was transmitted to the 
reigning beauties of each generation. 3 Elsewhere it is 
written, And the damsel was very fair — 'ad me'od (1 Kings 
I, 4), which means that she attained to Eve's beauty; but 
here in truth it is written, The Egyptians beheld 
the woman that she was very fair (me'od) — 
which means, even more beautiful than Eve's image. 4 

And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and 
praised her (xii, 15). R. Johanan said: They went on 

1 Gr. a<f>4$. 2 Deborah first, as the principal. 8 As a standard of beauty. 
* V. supra, vni, 5, where 'me'od' is treated as an allusion to Adam, and 
XXI, 2, where Eve is called Adam. The present comments are on the same 
lines (Th.). 'Ad implies up to a certain point, but no further. 

3^9 



XL. 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

outbidding each other for her 1 : one said, 'I give a hundred 
dinars that I may enter [Pharaoh's palace] with her/ 
whereupon another bid, 'I give two hundred dinars to 
enter with her.' 2 I know this only of their advancement; 
whence do we know it of their degradation? 3 Because it 
says, Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the pit 
(Jer. xxxvni, 6): they raised his price. 4 We know it only 
of this world: whence do we know it of the Messianic 
future ? Because it is said, And the peoples shall take them, 
and bring them to their place (Isa. xiv, 2). 

6. And he dealt well with Abram, etc. (xn, 
16). It is written, And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning 
him, etc. (ib. 20). R. Phinehas commented in R. Hoshaya's 
name: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to our father 
Abraham, * Go forth and tread out a path for thy children/ 
For you find that everything written in connection with 
Abraham is written in connection with his children. In 
connection with Abraham it is written, And there was a 
famine in the land {ib. 10) ; while in connection with Israel 
it is written, For these two years hath the famine 
been in the land (ib. xlv, 6). Abraham: And Abram went 
down into Egypt ; Israel : And our fathers went down into 
Egypt (Num. xx, 15). Abraham: To sojourn there; Israel : To 
sojourn in the land are we come (Gen. xlvii, 4). Abraham : For 
the famine was sore in the land; Israel : And the famine was sore 
in the land (ib. xliii, i). Abraham : And it came to pass, when 
he was come near (hikrib) to enter into Egypt ; Israel : And when 
Pharaoh drew nigh — hikrib (Ex. xiv, io). 5 Abraham: And 

1 Lit. *she was progressively raised' (in price). 

3 This is a comment on the end of the verse : Andthewoman 

WAS TAKEN INTO PHARAOH'S HOUSE. 

3 Viz. that when the righteous are to be humbled and mishandled, 
people outbid each other for the privilege of doing so ? 4 As in last note. 
5 This appears difficult, since the second phrase refers to Pharaoh, not 
Israel. Mah. explains that in both verses frarab, the kal form, should 
have been used, not hifrrib, the hifil, which literally means, * caused 
to draw nigh.' Hence the Midrash translates: the fear of the Egyptians 
caused Abraham to bring himself near to God, and similarly Pharaoh, 
by casting his fear upon the Israelites, caused them to come near to God ; 
cf. Ex. R. xxi, 4. 

330 



GENESIS (lech lecha) [XL. 6 

they will kill me, but thee they will keep alive ; Israel : Every 
son that is born ye shall cast into the river , and every daughter 
ye shall save alive (ib. I, 22). Abraham: Say, I pray thee, 
that thou art my sister, that it may he well with me; Israel: 
And God dealt well with the midwives {ib. 20). Abraham: 
And it came to pass, that, when Ahram was come into Egypt ; 
Israel : Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who 
came in Egypt (ib. 1). Abraham: And Abram was very rich 
in cattle, in silver, and in gold (Gen. xm, 2) ; Israel : And He 
brought them forth with silver and gold (Ps. cv, 37). Abraham: 
And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him, and they 
sent him away ; Israel: And the Egyptians were urgent upon 
the people, to send them out (Ex. xn, 33). Abraham; And he 
went on his journeys (Gen. xm, 3); Israel: These are the 
journeys of the children of Israel (Num. xxxm, 1). 



331 



XLL i] 

Chapter XLP (LECH LECHA) 
i. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his 

HOUSE WITH GREAT PLAGUES, etc. (XII, 17). It IS 

written, The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree; 
he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon (Ps. xcn, 13). As the 
palm and the cedar have neither crooked curves nor 
excrescences, so the righteous have neither crookedness nor 
excrescences 2 ; as the shadow of the palm and the cedar is 
cast afar, 3 so is the reward of the righteous far away [in the 
future world] ; as the heart of the palm and the cedar is 
directed upward, so are the hearts of the righteous directed 
toward the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, Mine 
eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will bring forth my 
feet out of the net (ib. xxv, 15); as the palm and the cedar 
have desire, 4 so have the righteous desire. And what is 
their desire? The Holy One, blessed be He. R. Tanhuma 
said: There was once a palm tree in Amatho 5 that did not 
yield fruit. A palm-gardener passed and saw it; said he: 
'This ungrafted tree looks to [a male palm] from Jericho/ 
As soon as they grafted it, it yielded fruit. Or [will you 
argue]: as we cannot make utensils from a palm tree, so 
are the righteous ! Therefore, it says * like a cedar \ R. Huna 
observed: There [in Babylonia] utensils are manufactured 
from it [the palm tree]. 6 Then will you say: as the cedar 
does not produce fruit, so are the righteous ? Therefore it is 
stated, ' The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree' ': as no 
part of the palm has any waste, the dates being eaten, the 
branches used for Hallel, the twigs for covering [booths], 7 
the bast for ropes, the leaves for besoms, and the planed 
boards for ceiling rooms, so are there none worthless in 
Israel, some being versed in Scripture, others in Mishnah, 

1 In the British Museum MSS. Add. 27169, which forms the basis of 
Theodor's critical edition, this is still Ch. XL. But in the cur, edd. and 
several other MSS. Ch. xli commences here, and this has been adopted 
for the sake of convenience. From Ch. xliii the edd. and MSS. are 
again alike. 2 In their character. 3 Their foliage being at the top. 

4 To be grafted with the male palm standing at a distance (Th.). 

5 Th.: a place in Transjordania. Var. lee: Hamtham, also a place, one 
mile from Tiberias, v. Meg. zb. * Cf. Pes. 88a. 7 V. Lev. xxin, 42, 

332 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLL 1-2 

some in Talmud, 1 others in Haggadah. And as whoever 
climbs to the top of the palm and the cedar and does not 
take care of himself falls and is killed, so whoever comes to 
attack Israel eventually receives his deserts on their account, 
the proof being that because Pharaoh took possession of 
Sarah for one night he and his household were smitten 
with plagues, as it is written, And the Lord 
plagued Pharaoh, etc. 

2. R. Simeon b. Lakish said in Bar Kappara's name: 
Pharaoh was smitten with lupus. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel 
said : An old man suffering with boils met me in Sepphoris ; 
said he to me: 'There are twenty-four varieties of boils, 
and out of all these the only one upon which a woman has 
an injurious effect is lupus' 2 ; and therewith was the wicked 
Pharaoh smitten. 

And his house. R. Aha said : Even the beams of his 
house were smitten, and all exclaimed, 'It is Because 
of Sarai Abram's wife.' R. Berekiah said: Because 
he dared to approach the shoe of that lady. And the whole 
of that night Sarah lay prostrate on her face, crying, 
' Sovereign of the Universe ! Abraham went forth [from 
his land] on Thine assurance, and I went forth with faith; 
Abraham is without this prison while I am within!' Said 
the Holy One, blessed be He, to her: 'Whatever I do, I 
do for thy sake, and all will say, "It is Because 
of Sarai Abram's wife."' R. Berekiah said: Because 
he dared to approach the shoe of that lady. 3 R. Levi said : 
The whole of that night an angel stood with a whip in his 
hand; when she ordered, 'Strike,' he struck, and when she 
ordered, 'Desist,' he desisted. 4 And why such severity? 

1 The general discussions on the Mishnah. 

8 In both cases the translation is only a conjecture. 

8 This repetition is absent in cur. edd. Its purpose is presumably to serve 

as an introduction to R. Levi's statement. 

4 All these statements are deduced from the verse under discussion. Al 

debar (E.V. "for the sake of) can also mean, 'by the word of. Hence it is 

interpreted : By the word of all people, that this was on account of Sarai ; 

again, by the word, i.e. prayer, of Sarah, and finally, by the word of 

Sarai to the angel. 'Abram's wife* is superfluous, hence the comment: 

that he should have dared to approach Abram's wife! 

333 



XLI. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Because she told him [Pharaoh], 'I am a married woman,' 
yet he would not leave her. R. Leazar said (the same was 
also taught in the name of R. Liezer b. Jacob) : We know 
that Pharaoh was smitten with leprosy and Abimelech 
with the closing up [of the orifices] : how do we know that 
what is said here is to be applied there, and vice versa? 
Because 'for the sake of occurs in both places, that an 
analogy may be drawn. 1 

3. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in 
silver, and in gold (xiii, 2). Thus it is written, 
And He brought them forth with silver and with gold; 
and there was none that stumbled among His tribes (Ps. 
cv, 37). 

And he went on his journeys (xiii, 3): He 
returned by the same route by which he had come. R. 
Leazar said : He went to settle his debts. 

And Lot also, who went with Abram, etc. 
(xiii, 5). Lot enjoyed four boons on account of Abraham: 
(i) And Lot went with him (Gen. xn, 4) ; (ii) AndLot 
also, etc., (iii) And he also brought back his brother Lot, 
and his goods (ib. xiv, 16) ; and (iv) And it came to pass, when 
God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered 
Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow 
(ib. xix, 29). Now in return for these his descendants 
should have requited us with kindness, yet not alone did 
they not requite us with kindness, but they even did us 
evil. Thus it is written, And he sent messengers unto Balaam 
. . . Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people 
(Num. xxii, 5 f.); again, And he gathered unto him the 
children of Ammon and Amalek, and he went and smote 
Israel (Judg. in, 13); also, And it came to pass after this, 
that . . . the children of Ammon, and with them some of the 
Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle (11 Chron. 
xx, 1); also this verse, The adversary hath spread out his 
hand upon all her treasures (Lam. 1, io). 2 Their sin is 

1 V. Gen. xx, 18 : For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house 
of Abimelech, for the sake of Sarah Abraham's wife. 

2 All these verses refer to the Ammonites or Moabites (v. Lam. R. i, io; 
Yeb. 1 6b), who were descended from Lot (v. Gen. xix, 30-8). 

334 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLL 3-5 

recorded in four places: An Ammonite or a Moahite shall 
not enter into the assembly of the Lord . , . because they met 
you not with bread and water in the way, etc. (Deut. xxiii, 

4 f .) ; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread 
and water, etc. (Nell, xm, 2) ; O My people, remember now 
what Balak king of Moab devised (Micah vi, 5). 1 Four 
prophets arose and sealed their doom, viz. Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel, and Zephaniah. Isaiah said: The burden of Moab, 
etc. (Isa. xv, i); Jeremiah: Then I will cause an alarm of 
war to be heard against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, 
etc. (Jer. xlix, 2); Ezekiel: / will open the flank of Moab 
. . . together with the children of Ammon, unto the children of 
the east . . . and I will execute judgments upon Moab, etc. 
(Ezek. xxv, 9 ff.); Zephaniah: Surely Moab shall be as 
Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, etc. 
(Zeph. 11, 9). 

4. Had flocks, and herds, and tents. R. 
Tobiah b. R. Isaac said: He had two tents, viz. Ruth the 
Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess. 2 Similarly it is 
written, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that 
are found (Gen. xix, 15) 3 : R. Tobiah said: That means two 
'finds', 4 viz. Ruth and Naamah. R. Isaac commented: 
/ have found David My servant (Ps. lxxxix, 21) : where did 
I find him? In Sodom. 5 

5. And there was a strife between the herd- 
men of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of 
Lot's cattle (xiii, 7). R. Berekiah said in R Judan's 
name: Abraham's cattle used to go out muzzled, 6 but 
Lot's did not go out muzzled. Said Abraham's 
herdmen to them: 'Has then robbery been permitted?' 
To which Lot's herdmen replied: 'Thus did the 

1 Only three are stated. Th. adds (v. Lam. R, 1, 10): Then Balak the son 
of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel: and he sent and 
called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you (Josh, xxiv, 9). 

2 He understands tents figuratively, as meaning descendants. 
* V. infra, l, 10 ad fin. * Two precious things. 

5 He was descended from Lot who was saved from the destruction of 
Sodom. * So as not to graze in others* fields. 

335 



XLL 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Holy One, blessed be He, say to Abraham: Unto thy 
seed will I give this land (Gen. xu, 7); now Abraham is a 
barren mule, who cannot beget children, 1 therefore Lot will 
be his heir; if they eat, they are eating their own/ Said 
the Holy One, blessed be He, to them: 'Thus did I say 
to him: Unto thy seed have I given this land' (ib. xv, 18): 
When? when the seven nations are uprooted from it. 2 
Now, however, And the Canaanite and the 
Perizzite dwelt then in the land, etc.: so far 
they still have a right in the land. 3 

6. And Abram said unto Lot: Let there be 
NO STRIFE, I pray thee, between me and thee, 
etc. (xiii, 8). R. 'Azariah said in R. Judah's name: Just 
as there was strife between the herdmen of Abraham and 
the herdmen of Lot, so was there strife between Abraham 
and Lot, as it says, And Abram said unto Lot: 
Let there be no strife, etc. 

For we are brethren. Was he then his brother? 
In fact he called him so because his features resembled 
his own. 

Is not the whole land before thee? 
Separate thyself (hippared) I pray thee (xiii, 
9), R. Helbo said: Not hibbadel* is written, but 
hippared: just as a peredah (mule) cannot develop 
semen, so is it impossible for this man [Lot] to mix with 
the seed of Abraham. 

If thou wilt take the left hand, then I 
will go to the right; or if thou take the 
right hand, then i will go to the left. he 
said to him: 'If thou goest to the left, I go to the south, 
while if I go to the south, thou goest to the left, so that in 
either case I go to the south.' 5 R. Johanan said: This may 
be compared to two men who had two stacks, one of wheat 

1 Cf. supra, xxxviii, 5. * As follows from w. 19 f. 

3 The Pesikta comments : a righteous man influences his household and 
servants to be likewise, while a wicked man makes his household wicked. 

4 Which has the same meaning. s Translating the second half of the 
verse : or if I take the right hand, then I will make thee go to the left. 

33 6 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLI. 6-7 

and the other of barley. Said one to the other: 'If the 
wheat is mine, then the barley is yours, while if the barley 
is yours the wheat is mine; in either case then the wheat 
is mine.' 1 R. Hanina b. Isaac said: It is not written, we- 
asme'elah but we-asme'ilah 2 : in all events I will make that 
man [Lot] go to the left. 

7. And Lot lifted up his eyes, etc. R. Nahman 
b. Hanan said: Whoever is fired with immoral desire is 
eventually fed with his own flesh. 3 R. Jose b. R. Hanina 
said: The whole of this verse connotes immoral desire. 
Thus: And Lot lifted up his eyes, as you read, 
And his master's wife lifted up her eyes to Joseph (ib. xxxix[ 
7). And beheld all the plain (kikkar) of the 
Jordan, as you read, For on account of a harlot a man is 
brought to a loaf (kikkar) of bread (Prov. vi, 26). 4 That 

IT WAS WELL WATERED (MASHKEH) EVERYWHERE, 

as you read, And he shall make the woman drink — 
wehishkah (Num. v, 24)* ; Before the Lord 
destroyed (shaheth) Sodom, as you read, And 
it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that 
he spilled* on the ground (Gen. xxxviii, 9). 

Like the garden of the Lord, like the 
land of Egypt: like the garden of the Lord 
in trees, and Like the land of Egypt in cereals. 

So Lot chose him all the plain of the 
Jordan, etc. (xm, 11). R. Jose b. Zimra said: He was 
like a man who covets his mother's dowry. 7 

And Lot journeyed east (mi-kedem): He 
betook himself from the Ancient (kadmon) of the world, 
saying, I want neither Abraham nor his God. 8 

1 The probable meaning is : if you examine the wheat, you will see that it 
is mine ; while if you examine the barley, you will see that it is yours. 

2 The first is intransitive, I will go left ; the second is transitive, I will 
cause another to go left. 3 He commits incest. 

4 Translating : and beheld all the loaf — i.e. the immorality — of the 
Jordan. s The reference is to the water ordeal of a woman accused of 
adultery. a We-shibeth, lit. 'destroyed'. 

7 Lot was as eager for immoral pleasures as though they were his due 
heritage. 8 Cf. supra, xxxvm, 7. 

337 « 



xll 7-9] midrash rabbah 

And they separated themselves the one 
from the other. abram dwelt in the land 
of Canaan, etc. {ib. 11 f.). Rabbi said: There was no 
city more wicked than Sodom: when a man was evil he 
was called a Sodomite ; and there was no nation more cruel 
than the Amorites; when a man was cruel he was called 
an Amorite. R. Issi said : There was no city [in the plain] 
better than Sodom, for Lot searched through all the cities 
of the plain and found none like Sodom. Thus these people 
were the best of all, yet, The men of Sodom were 
wicked and sinners {ib. 13) — they were wicked to 
each other; sinners in adultery; against the Lord 
in idolatry; while exceedingly refers to bloodshed. 

8. And the Lord said unto Abram, after 
that Lot was separated from him (xiii, 14 f.). 
R. Judah said: There was anger [in heaven] against our 
father Abraham when his nephew Lot parted from him. 
'He makes everyone cleave [to Me]/ said the Holy One, 
blessed be He, 'yet he does not cause his brother's son to 
cleave [to Me]!' R. Nehemiah said: There was anger [in 
heaven] against the Patriarch Abraham when Lot his 
brother's son went with him. ' I promised him, Unto thy 
seed have I given this land' (Gen. xv, 18), said God, 'yet 
he attaches Lot to himself; if so, let him go and procure 
two common soldiers!' This explains the text: Cast out 
the scorner (Prov. xxn, 10), which alludes to Lot; And con- 
tention will go out {ib.), alluding to, And there was a strife 
between the herdmen of Abraham's cattle, etc. Yea, strife 
and shame will cease {ib.), as it says, And Abram said to Lot : 
Let there be no strife. He that loveth pureness of heart, that 
hath grace in his lips, the king shall be his friend {ib. 11): 
hence, And the Lord said unto Abram: . . . for 

ALL THE LAND WHICH THOU SEEST, TO THEE WILL 
I GIVE IT, etc. 

9. AND I WILL MAKE THY SEED AS THE DUST 

OF the earth (xiii, 16). Just as the dust of the earth 
is found from one end of the world to the other, 

338 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLI. 9-IO 

so shall thy children be found from one end of the earth 
to the other; and as the dust of the earth can be blessed 
only through water, so will thy children be blessed only 
for the sake of the Torah, which is likened to water 1 ; 
and as the dust of the earth wears out even metal utensils 
yet itself endures for ever, so will Israel exist [for ever] 
while the nations of the world will cease to be ; and as the 
dust of the earth is trodden upon, so will thy children be 
downtrodden under the heel of [foreign] powers, as it is 
written, And I will put it into the hand of them that afflict 
thee (Isa. li, 23); which means, those who make thy 
wounds flow. Nevertheless, it is for thy benefit, for they 
purify thee of guilt, 2 as you read, Thou makest her soft with 
showers, etc. (Ps. lxv, n). 3 That have said to thy soul: 
Bow down, that we may go over (Isa. loc. cit.). What did 
they do to them ? They made them lie down in the streets 
and drew ploughs over them. R. 'Azariah said in R. Aha's 
name: That is a good augury: as the street outlives those 
who travel on it, yet itself remains for ever, so shall thy 
sons, [said God to Abraham], outlive the nations of the 
world while they will remain for ever. 4 

10. Arise, walk through the land, etc. (xm, 
17). It was taught 5 : If he walks in the field, whether along 
its length or its breadth, he acquires it as far as he walks. 
This is the view of R. Liezer, 6 but the Sages maintain: 
He does not acquire it until he takes possession. 7 R. Jacob 
said : R. Eliezer's view is based on the verse, Arise, 

WALK THROUGH THE LAND. 8 

1 Cf. Isa. lv, 1. 2 Lit. 'they beat thee out of thy guilt*. 

3 Words of the same root are used for 'makest soft* and * that afflict thee*. 
The Midrash understands the former in the sense of making the rain flow, 
and hence the latter too — to make the wounds flow. 

4 Nations that persecute the Jews are in the long run doomed to perish. 
6 B.B. 100a. 

6 One of the legal methods of acquiring land is hasakah, taking possession, 
and R. Liezer holds that walking in the land to be acquired constitutes 
hazafyih. 

7 E.g. by fencing part of it. The translation follows the text as emended 
by Th., which agrees with the text in the Talmud. 

8 By this act of walking Abraham was to acquire the title to the land. 

339 



XLII. i] 

Chapter XLII (LECH LECHA) 

i. And it came to pass in the pays of 
Amraphel, etc. (xiv, i). R. Joshua commenced his 
discourse in the name of R. Levi: The wicked have drawn 
out the sword, etc. (Ps. xxxvn, 14). R. Liezer's brothers 
were once ploughing in the plain, while he was ploughing 
on the mountain, when his cow fell and was maimed. It 
proved fortunate for him that his cow was maimed, for 
he fled to R. Johanan b. Zakkai. 1 He ate there clods of 
earth 3 until his mouth emitted an offensive odour, and when 
they went and told R. Johanan b. Zakkai that the breath 
from R. Eliezer's mouth smelt foul, he said to him: 'As 
the smell of your mouth became unpleasant for the sake of 
the Torah, so will the fragrance of your learning be diffused 
from one end of the world to the other.' After some time 
his father came up to disinherit him, and found him sitting 
and lecturing with the greatest of the land sitting before 
him. Ben Zizzith Hakeseth, Nikodemon ben Gurion, and 
Ben Kalba Shabua. He was expounding this verse : ' The 
wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent the bow'; 
this alludes to Amraphel and his companions ; To cast down 
the poor and needy (ib.)— to Lot; To slay such as are upright 
in the way (ib.) — to Abraham. Their sword shall enter into 
their own heart (ib. 15), as it is written, And he fought 
against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, 
etc. (Gen. xiv, 15). Said his father to him, 'My son, I 
came up only to disinherit thee; now, however, all my 
property is given to thee as a gift.' 'Behold,' he replied, 
'let it be her em [accursed] to me 3 ; I will take only an 
equal share with my brothers/ (Another interpretation: 
* The wicked have drawn out the sword' alludes to Amraphel 
and his allies, as it is written, And it came to pass 

IN THE DAYS OF AMRAPHEL). 4 

1 To study in his academy. a Through poverty. 

s He would not profit through his learning. 

4 The bracketed passage may be spurious ; Th. 

340 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLII. 2-3 

2. R. Samuel commenced his discourse: And this also 
is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he 
go (Eccl. v, 15). Said R. Samuel: As he comes with slops, 
so he goes with slops. 1 R. Abin said: Just as he commenced 
with four kings, so will he conclude with four kings. 2 
[He commences with four kings, viz.] : With Chedorlaomer 
king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king 
of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar (Gen. xiv, 9) ; so he 
ends with four kingdoms: the kingdom of Babylon, the 
kingdom of Media, the kingdom of Greece, and the empire 
of Edom [i.e. Rome]. R. Phinehas quoted in R. Abin's 
name : But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither 
understand they His counsel, for He hath gathered them as 
the sheaves to the threshing-floor (Micah iv, 12). Thus, 
why Came all these as allies (Gen. xiv, 3)? In order that 
they might come and fall by the hands of Abraham; 
hence it is written, And it came to pass in the 
days of Amraphel, etc. 

3. And it came to pass (wayyehi) in the days 
of Amraphel. R. Tanhuma said in the name of R. 
Iliyya the Elder and R. Berekiah said in R. Eleazar's 
name : The following teaching came to us from the Exile 3 : 
wherever 'And it came to pass in the days of (wayyehi 
biyeme) occurs, it denotes trouble. 4 R. Samuel b. Nahman 
said : ' And it came to pass in the days of occurs five times : 
(i) And it came to pass in the days of 
Amraphel: That they made war. This may be 
compared to a king's friend who dwelt in a province, and 
on his account the king used to visit the province and 
showed it favour. But when barbarians came to attack him 
[this friend] they lamented, c Woe to us, for the king will 
no longer show favour to this province as w T as his wont, 
[if his friend is killed]/ Thus it is written, And they turned 

1 At birth he can only eat slops, and in old age before death he is the same. 

2 R. Abin relates the verse to the Jewish nation: just as his history 
commences with an engagement between Abraham and the four kings, 
so at an advanced stage of his history shall he be subject to four powers. 

3 I.e. from Babylon. 

4 By a play on words the phrase is read way kayyah, there was woe. 

341 



XLII. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

back and came to En-mishpat, etc. (ih. 7): R. Aha said: 
They came only in order to attack the eyeball of the world ; 
the eye which executed judgment in the world 1 they desire 
to blind I 2 The same (hi) is Kadesh: R. Aha said: This is 
written hu (he) 3 : it was he [Abraham] that sanctified 
(kiddash) the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, in 
the fiery furnace. Hence when barbarians came to attack 
him, all began lamenting ' woe ! ' ; thus ' There was woe in 
the days of Amraphel/ 4 

(ii) And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz (Isa. vn, 1): 
[What]? The Arameans on the east, and the Philistines on 
the west {ih. ix, 11). This may be compared to the son of 
a king against whom his tutor plotted in order to kill him. 
Said he to himself: ' If I slay him now, my life will be forfeit 
to the king. Therefore I will rather withdraw his foster- 
mother from him, and he will die of himself.' Ahaz said 
likewise : If there are no kids there are no wethers ; if there 
are no wethers there are no sheep; if there are no sheep 
there is no shepherd; if there is no shepherd there is no 
world. He reasoned thus to himself: No children, no adults ; 
no adults, no disciples; no disciples, no sages; no sages, 
no elders; no elders, no prophets; and if there are no 
prophets the Holy One, blessed be He, will not cause His 
Shechinah to rest upon them. Thus it is written, Bind up 
the testimony, shut up the instruction among My disciples 
(ib. viii, 16). 5 R. rjhmia said in R. Leazar's name: Why 
was he called Ahaz ? Because he seized (ahaz) the 
synagogues and schools. R. Jacob said in R. Aha's name: 
Isaiah said : And I will wait for the Lord, that hideth His 
face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him (ib. 17) : 
no hour is as grievous as that whereof it is written, And I 
will surely hide my face, etc. (Deut. xxxi, 18), and since 
that hour I have hoped for Him, for He said to me, For 
it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed (ib. zi). 
And what did it avail him [sc. Ahaz] ? Behold, I and the 

1 En-mishpat literally means 'the eye of judgment'. 

2 The reference is to Abraham. 

3 Though read hi, feminine, its consonantal form is hu, masc, i.e. 'he'. 
* V- P- 34 *> n. 4. 5 Understood in the sense of to shut it out from them . 

342 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIL 3 

children whom the Lord hath given me shall be for signs and 
for wonders (Isa. vni, 18). Were they then his children? 
Surely they were his disciples ! This, however, teaches that 
they were dear to him, and so he called them his children. 1 
But as soon as he seized the synagogues and schools, all 
began lamenting ' woe ' : thus there was woe in the days of 
Ahaz. 

(iii) It came to pass in the days of Jehoiakim (Jer. i, 3) — 
/ beheld the earth, and lo, it was waste and void (ib. iv, 23). 
This may be compared to a king who sent an ordinance to 
a province : what did its inhabitants do ? They took it, tore 
it up, and burnt it in fire. [Similarly we read], And it came 
to pass, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, thai 
he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire (ib, xxxvi, 
23). When they saw this all began crying c woe* : thus there 
was woe in the days of Jehoiakim. 

(iv) And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged 
(Ruth I, 1) — That there was a famine in the land (ib.). 
This may be compared to a province that owed arrears 
to the king, and the king sent a treasury officer to collect 
them. What did the inhabitants do? They seized him, 
beat him and mulcted him. Then they cried, 'Woe to us 
when the king learns of this : what he wished to do to us we 
have done to him': similarly, woe to the generation that 
judged its judges ! 2 Thus, there was woe in the days when 
the judges were judged. 

(v) And it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (Est. 
1, 1) — Wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (ib. 
in, 6). This may be compared to a king who had a vine- 
yard, which three enemies attacked: the first plucked off 
single grapes, the second thinned the clusters, and the third 
uprooted the vines. Thus Pharaoh decreed, Every son that 
is born ye shall cast into the river (Ex. 1, 22) ; Nebuchadnezzar 
deported The craftsmen and the smiths a thousand (11 Kings 
xxiv, 16). (R. Berekiah said in R. Judah's name : That means, 
the craftsmen a thousand and the smiths a thousand. 
The Rabbis said: It means a thousand in all.) But Haman 

1 I.e. so far his attempt to kill Jewish education was a failure. 
z This is the Rabbinical rendering of the present verse. 

343 



XLII. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

wished to pull up the very roots, as it is written, To destroy, 
to slay, and to cause to perish all Jews {ib. 13). When they 
saw this, all began lamenting 'woe': thus there was woe 
in the days of Ahasuerus. 

R. Simeon [b. R. Abba] said in R. Johanan's name: 
Wherever wayyehi (and it came to pass) is employed it 
connotes either trouble or joy ; if trouble, there was none 
like it; if joy, there was none like it. R. Samuel b. Nahman 
came and drew a distinction : wherever wayyehi is stated, 
it denotes trouble ; we-hayah denotes joy. 1 They objected : 
But it is written, And God said : Let there be light and there 
was (wayyehi) light (Gen. 1, 3) ? That still does not connote 
joy, he replied, since the world was not privileged to make 
use of that light. 2 (R. Judah said : By the light which was 
created on the first day man could have seen from one end 
of the world to the other; but when the Holy One, blessed 
be He, foresaw the wicked, He hid it away for the righteous, 
as it is written, But the path of the righteous is as the light of 
dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Prov. 
iv, 18).) They objected: But it is written, And there was 
(wayyehi) evening and there was (wayyehi) morning, one day 
(Gen. 1, 4) ? That too was not an occasion of joy, replied 
he, for everything created on the first day is destined to 
wear out, as it is written, For the heavens shall vanish 
away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment 
(Isa. Li, 6). 3 They objected: But it is written, And there was 
(wayyehi) evening and there was (wayyehi) morning, a second 
day (Gen. 1, 8) ... a third day {ib. 13) . . . a fourth day 
{ib. 19), etc.? These still do not connote joy, he answered, 
for whatever was created in the first six days of Creation 
needs further preparation [before it is fit for use], e.g. 
mustard must be sweetened, wheat must be ground. They 
objected : But it is written, And the Lord was (wayyehi) with 
Joseph {ib. xxxix, 2)? That too was not an occasion of joy, 



1 Wayyehi is the impf . of the verb to be with the wazo conversive, generally 
translated, 'and it was/ 'and it came to pass'; we-hayah is the perf. 
with the waw conversive, generally rendered 'and it shall be', 'and it 
shall come to pass/ 2 V. supra, 111, 6. 8 It should be noted that 

he understands 'joy * in the sense of a permanent joy. 

344 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLII. 3 

because that she-bear [Potiphar's wife] assailed him. 
Another objection: But it is written, And it came to pass 
(wayyehi) on the eighth day (Lev. rx, i)? 1 That does still 
not connote joy, he replied, because on that very day 
Nadab and Abihu died. But it is written, And it came to 
pass (wayyehi) on the day that Moses had made an end of 
setting up the tabernacle (Num. vn, 1) ? That still does not 
connote joy, he answered, because it [the tabernacle] was 
hidden away at the building of the Temple. 2 But it is 
written, So the Lord was (wayyehi) with Joshua, and his 
fame was in all the land (Josh, vi, 27) ? That still does not 
connote joy, he replied, since he eventually had to rend 
his garments. 3 But it is written, And it came to pass 
(wayyehi), when the king dwelt in his house, etc. (11 Sam. vn, 
i)? 4 — Nathan came and informed him, Nevertheless, thou 
shalt not build the house (1 Kings vm, 19). Said they to him: 
We have quoted our objections : do you quote your proofs. 
Thereupon he cited : And it shall come to pass (we-hayah) 
in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem 
(Zech. xiv, 8); And it shall come to pass (we-hayah) in 
that day, that a great horn shall be blown, etc. (Isa. xxvn, 
13) ; And it shall come to pass (we-hayah) in that day, that a 
man shall rear a young cow, etc. (ib. vn, 21) 5 ; And it shall 
come to pass (we-hayah) in that day, that the Lord will set 
His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His 
people (ib. XI, 11); And it shall come to pass (we-hayah) in 
that day, that the mountains shall drop down sweet wine 
(Joel iv, 18). They objected: But it is written, And he 
(Jeremiah) was there (we-hayah) when Jerusalem was taken 
(Jer. xxxviii, 28) ? Even that connotes joy, was his reply, 
for on that very day Israel received full quittance for their 
sins, as R. Samuel b. Nahman said: Israel received 
quittance in full measure for their sins on the day that the 
Temple was destroyed, as it is written, The punishment of 

1 The verse treats of the final consecration of Aaron to the priesthood. 

2 This implies that the Tabernacle was in existence (though probably 
not in its erected form) until the Temple was built. 

3 Over the defeat at Ai (ib. vn, 6). * The chapter treats of the building 
of the Temple. 6 This refers to the Messianic era. 

345 



XLII. 3-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

thine iniquity is complete, O daughter of Zion, etc. (Lam. 
iv, 22). 

4. And it came to pass in the days of 
Amraphel. He was called by three names: Cush, 
Nimrod, and Amraphel. Cush, because he was indeed a 
Cushite 1 ; Nimrod, because he incited the world to revolt 
(himrid); Amraphel denotes: he made a declaration (amar 
imrah), ' I will cast down (appilah).' 2 [Another interpretation 
is] that he made sport of (amar we-afle) the world, also that 
he made sport of Abraham ; again, that he ordered Abraham 
to be thrown (amar we-hippil) into the furnace. 3 

Arioch king of Ellasar. R. Jose of Milhaya 4 
said: Why are they [hazel-nuts] called elsarin? Because 
[they grow in the territory] of Ellasar. 

Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal 
king of Goiim. R. Levi said : There is a place which 
is so called there [sc. in Babylon], 5 and [its inhabitants] 
took a certain man and made him king over them. 6 R. 
Johanan said : And his name was Tidal. Another interpre- 
tation: And it came to pass in the days of 
Amraphel king of Shinar: this alludes to Babylon; 
Arioch king of Ellasar: that alludes to Greece; 
Chedorlaomer king of Elam: that is Media; And 
Tidal the king of Goiim [lit. 'nations']: this 
alludes to the wicked Power [i.e. Rome] which levies 
troops from all the nations of the world. R. Eleazar b. 
R. Abina said: When you see the Powers fighting each 
other, look for the coming [lit. ' feet '] of the King Messiah. 
The proof is that in the days of Abraham, because these 
Powers fought against each other, greatness came to 
Abraham. 

1 That was his real name, as he was descended from Cush (Gen. x, 8). 

2 Th. Thus Amraphel is read as an abbreviation. Others translate 
differently. 3 The translation is conjectural. Neither the text nor 
its meaning is certain. 4 Probably in Galilee. 

5 The text reads: which is called there in Rome (or, in the Roman 
language, i.e. Latin). This is hardly intelligible and is probably a gloss. 

6 Goiim also means nations, peoples : hence he interprets that he was king 
because the people had so appointed him. 

346 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIL 5-6 

5. They made war with Bera, etc. (xiv, 2). R. 
Meir used to interpret names :Bera signifies that he was 
an evil son {ben ra l ) ;Birsha, that he was a wicked son 
{ben rasha c )\ Shi nab, that he amassed wealth {sho'eb 
mammon) ; Shemeber, that he flew 1 and procured 
riches ; Bela, that its inhabitants were swallowed up 
{nith-bal¥u). 

All these came as allies unto the vale of 
S 1 d d 1 m (xiv, 3). This was called by three names : The 
vale of Siddim, the vale of Shaveh, and the vale of Succoth. 2 
Siddim signifies that oak trees {saddanim) grew there; 
again, that it was divided up into fields {sadim) ; and finally, 
that it suckled its children like breasts {shadayim). The 
vale of Shaveh : R. Berekiah and R. Helbo in the name of 
R. Samuel b. Nahman said: It was so called because 
there all the peoples of the world became unanimous 
{hushewu)* felled cedars, erected a large dais for him 
[Abraham] and set him on top, while uttering praises 
before him, saying: 'Hear us, my lord: thou art a prince of 
God among us; in the choice\ etc. (Gen. xxiii, 6). They 
said to him: 'Thou art king over us, thou art a god to us/ 4 
But he replied : ' The world does not lack its king and the 
world does not lack its God/ 'Succoth/ implies that it was 
overshadowed {me-sukak) with trees. R. Tanhuma said: 
These were the vine, fig, pomegranate, nut, almond, 
apple, and peach-trees. 5 

The same is the salt sea. R. Aibu said: There was 
no sea there, 6 but the rocky banks of the river [Jordan ?] were 
broken through 7 and a sea [lake] was formed, as it is written, 
He cutteth out channels among the rocks (Job xxviii, 10). 

6. Twelve years, etc. (xiv, 4). R. Jose and R. 
Simeon b. Gamaliel disagreed. R. Jose said: Twelve years 

1 Reading the name sam eber, he made himself wings. 

2 V. v. 17, and Ps. lx, 8; the three are identified here. 

8 Identifying shaveh with shaweh, equal, alike — here, in thought and act. 
* Reading 'prince' and 'God* as independent substantives. 

6 The valley was probably pictured as terraced by rows upon rows of 
fruit trees. 6 At the time of this engagement. 

7 When Sodom was overthrown. 

347 



XLII. 6-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

[service] and thirteen years [rebellion], thus amounting 
to twenty-five. R. Simeon said: It means thirteen in all. 
How then do I explain, And the fourteenth year? 1 
It means their rebellion. 

And in the fourteenth year came Chedor- 
laomer. The owner of the beam has to bear the weight 
of it. 2 

And the kings that were with him, and 
smote the rephaim in ashteroth — karnaim: 
i.e. in Ashtarta lying between the horns. 3 

And the Zuzim in Ham: that means the most 
illustrious of them {ziwtane ba-hem).* And the Emim 
in Shaveh — Kiryathaim: They were twin cities 
both called Shaveh. 5 

And the Horites (xiv, 6): Eleutheropolis [Free- 
town]. 6 And why was it called Eleutheropolis? Because its 
inhabitants chose it and made themselves independent 
[free] in the generation of Separation. 

Unto El-Paran, which is by the wilderness; 
i.e. by the plain of Paran. 7 

7. And they turned back, and came to En- 
Mi sh pat — the same is Kadesh (xiv, 7). R. Aha 
said : They came only in order to attack the eyeball of the 
world ; the eye which executed judgment in the world they 
desire to blind! The same (hi) is kadesh: R. Aha 
said: This is written hu (he): it was he [Abraham] that 

x On R. Jose's view. 

2 This is a proverb. Since they had served Chedorlaorner, he had to be in 
the forefront now, his allies playing a subordinate part. 

3 Karnayim literally means two horns. I.e. between two mountains; 
v. Suk. 2a. 

4 This connects zuzim with sizv, ' lustre ' or ' brightness ', and ham 
with bahem, ' among them/ 

5 Text as emended by Th., which is also similar to that of cur. edd. 
* Kiryathaim ' is the dual form of kiryah, a city. On the present 
reading in Th's. ed., which is found in several MSS. (* they were two 
Ninevehs'), it is suggested there may be an actual reference to Nineveh, 
or to a town Navah in Bashan in the vicinity of Ashteroth — karnayim. 

6 Hori is derived from heruth, freedom, and hori, free. 

7 Connecting El with elone in xm, 18 et passim, which the Targum 
translates: the plain (of Mamre; E.V.: € the terebinths of Mamre'). 

348 



GENESIS (LECH LECH A ) [XLII. J 

sanctified (kiddash) the name of the Holy One, blessed be 
He, in the fiery furnace. 1 

And they smote all the country of the 
Amale kites. Amalek had not yet arisen, yet you say, 
And they smote all the country of the 
Amalekites ! But, He declareth the end from the 
beginning (Isa. xlvi, io). 2 

And also the Amorites, that dwelt in 
Hazazon — Tamar: this means, in En-gedi of the 
palm-trees. 3 

And there went out the King of Sodom . . . 
four kings against the five (xiv, 8 f.). Four 
kings waged war with five and defeated them. 

Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime 
pits — hem or (xiv, io): full of pits producing asphalt 
(hamor). 

And the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, 

AND THEY FELL THERE, AND THEY THAT REMAINED 

fled to the mountain. R. Judah said: And they 
fell there refers to the troops, while And they 

THAT REMAINED FLED TO THE MOUNTAIN refers to 

the kings. R. Nehemiah said: And they fell there 
refers to the kings, while And they that remained 
fled to the mountain refers to the troops. Now on 
the view of R. Judah there is no difficulty. 4 But on the view 
of R. Nehemiah, R. 'Azariah and R. Jonathan in R. Isaac's 
name gave the following further explanation: When 
Abraham descended into the fiery furnace and was rescued, 
some of the nations believed [that it had happened], while 
others disbelieved. But when the King of Sodom descended 
into the slime and was rescued, then all believed in Abraham 
retrospectively. 

And they took all the goods of Sodom and 
Gomorrah, and all their victuals (oklam), 



1 V. $upra t 3 ad init. . . 

2 It is called The country of the Amalekites in anticipation. 

3 Tamar is a palm-tree. v. n Chron. xx, 2. _ 

4 The kings escaped ; hence it states in v. 17: And the king of Sodom went 
out to meet him. 

349 



XLII. 7-8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

and went their way (xiv, n). R. Judah said: Was 
it not a big thing to take All their victuals? Said 
R. Nehemiah: What is meant is dry dates. 1 

And they took Lot . . . and his goods, etc. 
They did this to Lot : they put him in a boat and took him 
with them. And why did he come to this? Because He 
dwelt in Sodom (ib.), thus fulfilling the verse, He 
that zvalketh with wise men shall be wise, but the companion 
of fools shall smart for it (Prov. xni, 20). 

8. And there came one that had escaped, 
and told Abram, etc. (xiv, 13). R. Simeon b. Lakish 
said in the name of Bar Kappara : That was Og 2 ; and why 
was he called Og? Because he came and found Abraham 
sitting and engaged in the precept of [unleavened] cakes 
('ugoth). 2 He did not act from a pious motive, but he said 
to himself: 'This man Abraham is vindictive: I will apprise 
him that Lot is captured ; then will he go out to battle and 
be slain, while I will take Sarah/ 'By thy life!' said the 
Holy One, blessed be He, to him, 'thou wilt receive reward 
for thy journey [footsteps] by living a long time in the 
world. 4 But because thou didst intend to slay that righteous 
man, thou wilt see myriads of his descendants and wilt 
ultimately fall into the hands of his sons/ as it is written, 
And the Lord said unto Moses : Fear him not ; for I have 
delivered him into thy hand, etc. (Num. xxi, 34). 5 

And told Abram the Hebrew (ha-'ibri). R. 
Judah said : [ha-'ibri signifies that] the whole world 
was on one side ( c eber) while he was on the other side 
('eber)* R. Nehemiah said: [It denotes] that he was 
descended from Eber. The Rabbis said: It means that he 
came from across the river 7 ; further, that he spoke in the 
language of the dwellers across the river. 

1 These are easy to carry yet highly esteemed. 2 King of Bashan. 

3 It was Passover-time, and the Rabbis held that Abraham fulfilled all 
the precepts of the Torah even before they were promulgated. V. Deut. 
R. I, 25, for a different version. 

4 Obviously, since he was alive in the time of Moses. 

5 The past tense have delivered implies before, viz. in the days of 
Abraham. * He alone of all mankind believed in the true God. 

7 V. Josh, xxiv, 3. 

350 



GENESIS (lech lecha) [XLII. 8 

NOW HE DWELT BE-ELONE (E.V. 'BY THE TERE- 
BINTHS of') Mam re, etc. R. Judah said: That means, 
in the plain of Mamra. R. Nehemiah said: In the palace 
of Mamre. On R. Judah' s view a place called Mamre is 
meant; on R. Nehemiah' s view, it refers to a person called 
Mamre. And why was he called Mamre? R. 'Azariah said 
in the name of R. Judah 1 : Because he rebuked (himrah) 2 
Abraham. When the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded 
Abraham to circumcise himself he went and took counsel 
with his three friends. 3 Aner said to him: 'You are already 
a hundred years old, yet you would inflict this pain upon 
yourself?' Eshcol said to him: 'Why should you go and 
make yourself distinguishable to your enemies?' 4 But 
Mamre said to him: 'When did He not stand by you — in 
the fiery furnace, in famine, and in your war with the 
kings? Will you not obey Him then in this matter!' 
Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: 'Thou gavest 
him good advice, to circumcise himself: by thy life! I 
will reveal Myself to him only in thy palace.' Hence it is 
written, And the Lord appeared unto him in the palace of 
Mamre (Gen. xvm, i). 

1 Probably R. Judah b. R. Simon. 

2 Lit. 'he showed a stern countenance*. 

3 V. v. 24. * By circumcision. 



351 



XLIIL 1-2] 

Chapter XLIII (LECH LECHA) 

i. And Abram heard that his brother was 
taken captive (xiv, 14). It is written, He shall not 
he afraid of evil things ; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the 
Lord (Ps. cxii, 7) ; also, Andfoundest his heart faithful before 
Thee (Neh. ix, 8) ; also, His heart is established, he shall not 
be afraid (Ps. cxii, 8); also, Fear not Abram (Gen. xv, 1); 
also, Until he gaze upon his adversaries (Ps. he. cit.). Con- 
sequently, And he divided himself against them by nighty 
etc. (Gen. xv, 15). 

2. And Abram heard, etc. Thus it is written, He 
stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, etc. (Isa. xxxm, 15). 1 

He led forth (wayyarek) his trained men, 
etc. R. Judah said: It was they who turned a wrathful 
countenance (horiku panim) upon Abraham, saying, ' Five 
kings could not defeat them, yet we are to defeat them ! ' 2 
R. Nehemiah interpreted it: He turned a defiant 
countenance (horik panim) to them and exclaimed, ' I will 
go forth and fall in sanctifying the name of the Holy One, 
blessed be He.' 3 R. Abba b. Zabda said: He made them 
glitter (horikan) with weapons, as you read, Burnish 
(harek — E.V. 'draw out*) also the spear, and the battle 
axe, against them that pursue me ; say unto my soul : I am 
thy salvation (Ps. xxxv, 3). R. Simeon b. Lakish said: 
He made them glitter with precious stones and pearls, as 
you read, With the shimmer of (yerakrak) gold {ib. lxviii, 
14). R. Levi said: He thinned their numbers 4 by reading 

1 I.e. Abraham would not hear of violence without seeking to remedy it. 

2 Lit. 'stand against them'. Both R. Judah and R. Nehemiah interpret 
wayyarek, he made pale (in anger). R. Judah holds that he made his 
servants* faces pale, i.e. they opposed him; while in R. Nehemiah's 
opinion he made himself pale by defying them. 

8 This is one of the cardinal teachings of Judaism : it is man's duty to act 
nobly and uprightly even at the cost of his life, for in so doing he sanctifies 
the Divine Name. 
4 Lit. *he emptied them' (herifyan). 

352 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIIL 2-3 

the section of the heralds, as you read, What man is there 
that is fearful (yare) and faint-hearted— rzk (Deut. xx, 8)? 1 

Born in his house. This means, those bear- 
ing his name, their name being Abram, like his own. 2 

Three hundred and eighteen. R. Simeon b. 
Lakish said: It was Eliezer alone, the numerical value of 
Eliezer being three hundred and eighteen. 3 

And pursued as far as Dan. Idolatry smites 
both before it comes and after it has departed. It smites 
in anticipation, as it is written, And pursued as far 
as Dan. It smites retrospectively, as it is written, The 
snorting of his horses is heard from Dan (Jer. viii, 16). 4 

3. And the night was divided against them 
(xiv, 15). 5 R. Benjamin b. Jepheth said in R. Johanan's 
name: The night was divided of its own accord. The 
Rabbis say : Its Creator divided it. 6 The Holy One, blessed 
be He, said: 'Abraham has laboured with Me 7 at midnight; 
therefore I too will act for his sons at midnight/ And when 
did that happen ? In Egypt, as it says, And it came to pass 

1 He derives wayyareh, from refa empty ; he * emptied them ', and was left 
with Eliezer only. Cur edd.: he made them bright (encouraged them); 
i.e. he inspired them with courage by pointing out that the faint- 
hearted need not go. 

2 This connects harrikaw (E.V. 'his trained men') with hanikah, a surname 
(v. Jast. s.v. rD^n), hence rendered: the men bearing his name. 
'E.J.: he understands Born in his house figuratively, i.e. con- 
verted by him; and as they were converted by Abraham they took his 
name. 3 k (1) + b (30) + •» (10) -\- jr (70) + r (7) -f *i (200) « 318. 
Cf. n. 1. 

4 The meaning is that the evil effects of idolatry are felt both before and 
after it is actually practised. Because Jeroboam was destined to set up 
a golden calf at Dan (1 Kings xii, 19), Abraham was weakened now when 
he came to that place and so could pursue them no further. Similarly, 
even after it was destroyed Jeremiah speaks of terror raging in Dan. 
Cf. Sanh. 96a. 

5 E.V. 'And he divided himself against them by night'. 

6 Both explain the verse, And the night was divided against 
them to mean that exactly at midnight they suffered defeat and pursuit. 
But since a man cannot ascertain the exact moment of midnight (cf. 
Ex. R. xviii, 1), R. Benjamin maintains that the night divided itself, 
showing Abraham the exact moment, while the Rabbis hold that God 
divided it for Abraham. 7 Abraham's rescue of the captives, being a 
noble action, is regarded as working with and assisting God. 

353 Aa 



XLIII. 3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

at midnight (Ex. xn, 29). R. Tanhuma said: Some state 
this in a different form. The Holy One, blessed be He, 
said: 'Abraham went forth at midnight, therefore I too 
will go forth with his sons at midnight,' as it says, Thus 
saith the Lord: About midnight will I go out, etc. (ib. XI, 4). 

And smote them, and pursued them. Does 
then a man pursue the slain? 1 Said R. Phinehas: Those 
who were pursued by Abraham were [already looked upon 
as] slain, as it says, For they pursue him whom thou hast 
smitten (Ps. lxix, 27). 

It Is written, Who hath raised up (he'ir) one from the east, 
Zedek (Righteousness) calling him to His feet (Isa. xli, zf : 
[this alludes to Zedek — the Righteous One] the Life of all 
worlds, who illumined (me'ir) his path wherever he went. 3 
R. Berekiah said: The planet Zedek [Jupiter] illumined 
his path. R. Reuben said : Righteousness 4 cried out and said : 
'If Abraham will not perform me, none will perform me/ 5 

It is written, He giveth nations before him, and maketh 
him rule over kings; his sword maketh them ds the dust, his 
bow as the driven stubble (ib.). R. Judah and R. Nehemiah 
differed. One maintained : This means that Abraham threw 
dust at them [the four kings] which turned to swords; 
stubble, and it turned to arrows. But the other argued: It 
is not written, 'He maketh dust/ but 'He maketh them as 
the dust * : they threw swords at Abraham which turned to 
dust; and arrows, which became stubble. 

Again, it is written, He pursueth them, and passeth on 
safely — shalom (ib. 3). R. Levi and R. Eleazar in R. Jose's 
name said: Abraham's steps were three miles long. 6 
R. Judah b. R. Simeon said : They were one mile long, for 
it says, The way with his feet he treadeth not (ib.)? 

1 A n d he smote being understood in the sense of killed : How then 
could he first smite and then pursue them ? 

2 E.V. 'At whose step victory attendeth* . 3 By a play on words T»pn, 
to awaken, raise up, is connected with *twj, to illumine. 

4 The Attribute of Righteousness personified; cf. supra, vin, 5. 

5 Rendering: Righteousness (personified) summoned him (Abraham) to 
his (righteousness') feet — i.e. to do it. 

6 Shalom (E.V. ' safely') being read as an abbreviation of shalosh 
milin, three miles ('E.J.). 7 M.K. : a mile is the shortest distance which 
can be called way. Thus he passed over a whole mile without treading. 

354 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIIL 3-6 

R. Nehunia said in R. Bibi's 1 name: Their feet became 
no more dust- stained than those of one who goes from his 
home to the synagogue. 2 

4. And he brought back all the goods . . 

AND THE WOMEN ALSO, AND THE PEOPLE (XIV, 16). 

R. Judan said: They brought back the men and the women, 
but not the children. 3 Thereupon they arose and became 
proselytes and cut off the reproach of their fathers. 4 Thus 
it is written, Wherefore I will bring the worst of the nations 
(Ezek. vii, 24). 5 Who are ' The worst of the nations'} Said 
R. Judah: The people of Sodom, as it says, Now the men 
of Sodom were wicked and sinners (Gen. xiii, 13). 6 

5. And the king of Sodom went out to meet 
h 1 m (xiv, 17). R. Abba b. Kahana said: He began putting 
on airs, 7 saying to him: 'Just as you descended into the 
fiery furnace and were saved, so did I descend into the 
slime and was saved.' 

At the vale of Shave h — t he same is the 
king's vale. R. Berekiah and R. Helbo in the name of 
R. Samuel b. Nahman said: It was so called because there 
all peoples of the world became unanimous, and said to 
Abraham: 'Be thou king over us.' But he replied: 'The 
world does not lack its king and its God/ 8 

6. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought 
forth bread and wine (xiv, 18). It is written, And, 

daughter of Zor [E.V. 'Tyre'], the richest of the people 

1 This is Th.'s conjectured emendation. 

2 I.e. as though they had not trodden the way with their feet. 

3 'E.J.: he renders wayyasheb ('he brought back ') in the sense of restored 
to their place: Abraham restored the adults to their original place, but 
retained the children, to teach them righteousness. *They brought back* 
is thus meant generically Abraham's company. Cur. edd. 'he brought 
back* is preferable. M.K. explains differently. 

4 I.e. they freed themselves from their fathers* evil ways. Y.T.: they 
underwent circumcision. 5 Sc. under the wings of the Shechinah. 

6 And it was the children of these that God brought back to Himself. 

7 Lit. "he began wagging his tail against him', as a sign of familiarity. 
A liter : * he began to fawn on him *, in order to curry favour. 

8 V. supra, xlii, 5. 

355 



XLIIL 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

shall entreat thy favour with a gift (Ps. XLV, 13). 'Daughter 
of Zor' alludes to Abraham, who distressed (hezar) 1 kings 
and who was distressed by kings. 2 ' They shall entreat thy 
favour with a gift/ as it is written, And Melchi- 

ZEDEK KING OF SALEM BROUGHT FORTH BREAD 
AND WINE. 

And Melchi Zedek 3 : This place 4 made its in- 
habitants righteous. 5 [Another interpretation] : And 
the king of Zedek, 6 The Lord of Zedek (Josh, x, 
i). 7 Jerusalem is called Zedek (righteousness), as it is 
written, Zedek (righteousness) lodged in her (Isa. I, 21). 

King of Salem (Shalem). R. Isaac the Baby- 
lonian said: This implies that he was born circumcised. 8 

Brought forth bread and wine. R. Samuel b. 
Nahman said : He instructed him in the laws of the priest- 
hood, bread alluding to the shewbread, and wine 
to libations. 9 The Rabbis said: He revealed Torah to him, 
as it is written, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine 
which I have mingled (Prov. IX, 5). 10 

And he was priest of the God most high. 
R. Abba b. Kahana said : Wherever ' wine ' is mentioned in 
the Torah it leaves its mark, u except in the present instance. 
R. Levi said : Here too we have not escaped unscathed, for 
immediately after this it was revealed to him, And they shall 
serve them; and they shall afflict them, etc. (Gen. xv, 13). 12 

1 Deriving zor from sarar, to vex, distress. 

2 This presumably refers to Abraham's pursuit of the four kings and his 
persecution by Nimrod (v. supra, xxxvnr, 13) respectively, 'kings' in 
the second case being employed genetically. 

3 Read as two words, as in the original. 

4 Sc. Jerusalem (Salem in the English). 

5 This is the comment on the word * Zedetf, which means righteousness. 
e So translated now. 7 E.V. ' Adoni-zedek' . 

8 Translating Shalem whole, complete, i.e. the 'whole' king; cf. Gen. 

xvir, 1-10. 9 Both were in charge of the priests. 

10 The speaker is Wisdom personified (v. 1-3); hence 'bread* and 'wine' 

there refer to the Torah. 

21 Every mention of wine-drinking is followed by some record of trouble. 

12 In Ned. 326 this is stated to have been Abraham's punishment for 

complying with the request of the king of Sodom, Give me the persons 

(v. 21), instead of converting them to the true faith. R. Levi perhaps 

holds that this complaisance was due to the convivial and friendly mood 

induced by the drinking of wine. Y.T. 

356 



genesis (lech lecha) [XLIIL 7-8 

7. And he blessed him, and said: blessed be 
Abram of the God most high, who has 
acquired (koneh) 1 heaven and earth (xiv, 19). 
From whom then did He acquire them?— Said R. Abba: 
[acquired is attributive,] as one says, So-and-so has 
beautiful eyes and hair. 2 R. Isaac said: Abraham used to 
entertain wayfarers, and after they had eaten he would say 
to them, 'Say a blessing.' 'What shall we say?* they asked. 
'Blessed be the God of the Universe of Whose bounty we 
have eaten/ replied he. Then the Holy One, blessed be 
He, said to him: 'My Name was not known among My 
creatures, and thou hast made it known among them: I 
will regard thee as though thou wast associated with Me 
in the creation of the world/ Hence it is written, And 
He blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram 
of the God most high, who [sc. Abraham] 
has acquired heaven and earth. 3 

8. And blessed be God the most high, Who 
hath delivered (miggen) thine enemies into 
thy hand (xiv, 8). R. Huna interpreted it: Who hath 
turned thy weapons 4 against thine enemies. R. Judan 
interpreted : By how many contrivances did I bring them 5 
under thy hands! They were close friends and used to 
interchange gifts of dry dates 6 and other presents; yet I 
incited them to rebel against each other, so that they might 
fall into thy hands. 

And He gave him a tenth of all. R. Judah 
said in R. Nehorai's name: In virtue of that blessing the 
three great pillars of the world, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 
enjoyed prosperity. In the case of Abraham it is written, 
And the Lord blessed Abraham in ail things (ib. xxiv, 1), 

1 E.V. 'Maker of. 2 I.e. koneh here means, in possession of. 

3 I.e. &oneh does mean acquired, but it refers to Abraham, who acquired 

a partnership in the world. The purpose of the Creation was the making 

of man who should ever strive to come nearer to God. By diffusing the 

knowledge of God amongst men, Abraham thus became a partner in 

God's work. 4 Magnun, with which ' miggen ' by a play on words is 

connected ; it may also mean, thy plans, schemes. 

5 The kings. • These were highly esteemed; cf. supra, xlii, 7. 

357 



XLIII. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

as a reward for, And He gave him a tenth of 
all. Of Isaac it is written, And I have eaten of all {ib. 
xxvii, 33), as a reward for, And He gave him a 
tenth of all. Of Jacob it is written, Because God 
hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have all (ib. 
xxxiii, 11), as a reward for, And He gave him a 
tenth of all. 

Whence were Israel privileged to receive the Priestly 
Blessing? 1 R. Judah said: From Abraham, [for in his 
case it is written,] So (koh) shall thy seed be (Gen. xv, 5), 
while there it is written, So (koh) shall ye bless the children 
of Israel (Num. vi, 23). R. Nehemiah said: From Isaac, 
for it is written, And I and the lad will go yonder — 'ad koh 
(Gen. xxii, 5); therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, 
promised: 'So (koh) shall ye bless the children of Israel.' 
The Rabbis taught: From Jacob, for it says, So (koh) 
shalt thou say to the house of Jacob (Ex. xix, 3), to which 
corresponds, 'So shall ye bless the children of Israel.' 

When will I magnify thy sons like the stars ? R. Eleazar 
and R. Jose b. R. Hanina gave different replies. One main- 
tained: When I reveal Myself to them with a message 
'So', viz. 'So shalt thou say to the house of Jacob.' 2 The 
other maintained: When I reveal Myself to their leaders 
with a message 'So ', viz. So (koh) saith the Lord: Israel 
is My son. My firstborn {ib. iv, 22). 3 

9. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram 
. . . and Abram said to the king of Sodom: I 
have lifted up (harimothi) my hand unto the 
Lord (xiv, 21 f.). R. Judah said: He had separated 
terumah thereof, 4 as you read, Then ye shall set apart (wa- 
haremothem) of it a gift (terumah) to the Lord (Num. 
xviii, 26). R. Nehemiah interpreted it: He had taken an 
oath in respect of it, as you read, And he lifted up his right 

1 V. Num. vi, 23-27. 

2 This introduces the chapter of Revelation. So shall thy seed be is 
preceded by, Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, 

3 The leaders are Moses and Aaron. Cur. edd.: leader — sc. Moses. 

4 Of the spoil. 

358 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIII. 9 

hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore (Dan. xn, 7). 
The Rabbis said: He had uttered song [to God] on its 
account, as you read, My father's God, and I will exalt 
Him— aromemenhu (Ex. xv, 2). R. Berekiah said in R. 
Bleazar's name: Moses said: 'With the very same language 
in which my ancestor uttered song, viz. harimothi, will I 
utter song, viz. "My father's God, and I will exalt Him— 
aromemenhu' \ ' 

That I will not take a thread nor a shoe- 
latchet (xiv, 23). R. Abba b. Mammel said: The Holy 
One, blessed be He, assured him: 'Because thou saidest, 
I will not take a thread, by thy life! I will give 
thy children the precept of fringes/ as you read, And that 
they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (Num. 
xv, 38), which is rendered, a thread of blue wool. 1 Nor 
a shoe-latchet: 'I swear to thee that I will give thy 
children the precept of yebamah, in connection with which 
you read, Then shall she loose his shoe from off his foot" 
(Deut. xxv, 9). 

Another interpretation: Not a thread: this is 
an allusion to the Tabernacle, which was adorned with 
blue wool and purple wool; Nor a shoe-latchet 
alludes to the badger skins. 2 Another interpretation: 
Not a thread alludes to sacrifices, as we learned 3 : 
A thread of scarlet girdled it [the altar] about the middle. 4 
Nor a shoe-latchet: this alludes to the feet of the 
[festival] pilgrims, as it says, How beautiful are thy steps 
in sandals (S.S. vn, 2). 

Save only that which the young men have 
eaten and the portion of the young men 
which went with me; [also] let Aner, Eschol, 

AND MAMRE TAKE THEIR PORTIONS (XIV, 24). 5 Thus 

1 The Aramaic translation of the Hebrew is given here. 

2 Shoes being made from animal hides. This too probably means that the 
Israelites obtained these in the merit of Abraham's self-denial. 

3 Mid. in, 1 ; Zeb. 53*2. 4 Above or below which the blood of the 
different sacrifices was sprinkled, according to their nature. 

5 Note the punctuation, which differs from E.V. According to this Aner, 
etc., had not accompanied Abraham, but kept guard in his absence, yet 
they were to receive their portion. 

359 



XLIII. 9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

it is written, Then answered all the wicked men and base 
fellows ; of those that went with David, and said: Because 
they went not with us, we will not give them aught of the spoil 
. . . Then said David : Ye shall not do so, my brethren . . . 
For as is the share of him that goeth down to battle, so shall 
be the share of him that tarrieth by the baggage ; they shall 
all share alike. And so it was from that day and above, that 
he made it a statute (1 Sam. xxx, 22-25). R. Judah said: 
It is not written, ' [From that day] and onward/ but ' [From 
that day] and above' 1 :, from whom did he learn? From his 
ancestor Abraham, who said, Save only that which 

THE YOUNG MEN HAVE EATEN . . . [also] LET ANER, 
ESCHOL, AND MAMRE TAKE THEIR PORTION. 

1 Which means, and formerly. E.V. 'forward*. 



360 



fXLIV. 1-2 
Chapter XLIV (LECH LECHA) 
i. After these things the word of the Lord 

CAME UNTO ABRAM IN A VISION, etc. (XV, l). It is 

written, As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord 
is tried (n Sam. xxn, 31) if His way is perfect, how much 
the more He Himself! Rab said: The precepts were given 
only in order that man might be refined 1 by them. For what 
does the Holy One, blessed be He, care whether a man kills 
an animal by the throat or by the nape of its neck ? Hence 
its purpose is to refine [try] man. 2 Another interpretation : 
' His way is perfect * alludes to Abraham, 3 for it is written, 
And thou foundest his [sc. Abraham's] way faithful before 
Thee, etc. (Neh. IX, 8). 'The word of the Lord is tried' 
intimates that the Holy One, blessed be He, tried him in a 
fiery furnace. He is a shield unto all them that take refuge 
in Him (11 Sam. loc. cit.) ; hence, Fear not, 
Abram, I am thy shield, etc. 

z. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil (Prov. 
xiv, 16): though thou art wise and departest from evil, 
yet thou fearest! 4 [Therefore I say to thee] Fear 
not, Abram. 

Be not wise in thine own eyes ; fear the Lord (ib. hi, 7) : 
Be not wise by what thou seest with thine own eyes 5 ; 
canst thou say that I will cause thee to beget or that I will 
not cause thee to beget? ' Fear the Lord 76 : thus it is written, 
Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield. 

R. Abin commenced his discourse in R. Hanina's name : 
The wicked doeth work of falsehood 7 ; but he that soweth 
righteousness hath a sure reward (ib. xi, 18). ' The wicked 
doeth work of falsehood' alludes to Nimrod, whose works 

1 Le-zaref, of the same root as zerufah (' tried ') in the verse just quoted. 

2 And this is the meaning of The word of the Lord is tried. 

3 The verse will then be translated: O God! his {Abraham's) way, etc. 

4 The verse is apparently rendered as a rhetorical question: a wise 
man, who departeth from evil, does he fear ? 

5 According to the Rabbis (Shab. 156a) Abraham saw in his horoscope 
that he was not destined to beget children, and this was the cause 
of his fear. 6 But none else, 7 E.V. ' Earneth deceitful wages'. 

361 



XLIV. 2-4] MIDRASH KABBAH 

were of falsehood; ' But he that soweih righteousness' alludes 
to Abraham, of whom it is written, That they may keep 
the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice (Gen. 
xviii, 19); 'Hath a sure reward', as it is written, Fear 

NOT, ABRAM, I AM THY SHIELD, THY REWARD 
SHALL BE EXCEEDINGLY GREAT. 

3. But thou, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have 
chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend, thou whom I have 
taken hold of from the ends of the earth (Isa. xli, 8 f.) — 
i.e. from Mesopotamia and its country towns ; And called 
thee from its nobles (ib.) 1 : I summoned thee from out of its 
distinguished men. / have chosen thee and not cast thee 
away (ib,) : I chose thee when thou wast Abram, and did 
not cast thee away when thou wast Abraham. 2 Fear not, 
for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God (ib. 10). 
R. Hoshaya said: When Isaac said to Jacob, Come near, 
I pray thee, that I may feel thee (Gen. xxvii, 21), perspira- 
tion poured over his legs, and his heart melted like wax; 
whereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, provided him 
with two angels, one at his right and one at his left, and 
these supported him by the elbows, that he might not fall. 
Hence He said to him, 'Be not dismayed (tishta')' — i.e. 
be not wax-like (teshawa ( ), ' For I am thy God' ; I strengthen 
thee, yea, I help thee ; yea, I uphold thee with My victorious 
right hand. Behold, they shall all he ashamed and confounded 
that were incensed against thee (ib. 10 f.) — this means, those 
who are hostile to thee; They that strove with thee shall be 
as nothing, and shall perish (ib.) — that means, those who 
engage in strife with thee ; Thou shalt seek them, and shalt 
not find them, even them that contended with thee (ib. 12) — 
this refers to those who wage quarrels with thee. For I 
the Lord thy God hold thy right hand, who say unto thee : 
Fear not (ib. 13), as it is written, Fear not, 
Abram, etc. 

4. R. Levi explained this in two ways, the Rabbis in 
one. R. Levi said: Abraham was filled with misgiving, 

1 E.V. ' The uttermost parts thereof. 2 I.e. in old age (Mah. and Th.). 

362 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 4-5 

thinking to himself, Maybe there was a righteous or God- 
fearing man among those troops which I slew. This may be 
compared to a straw-merchant who was passing the king's 
orchards, and seeing some bundles of thorns, descended 
[from his wagon] and took them. [The king] caught sight 
of him, whereupon he tried to hide himself. ' Why do you 
hide?' he said to him, reassuringly, 'I needed labourers 
to gather them; now that you have gathered them, come 
and receive your reward.' Thus the Holy One, blessed be 
He, said to Abraham: 'Those troops that thou slewest 
were thorns already cut down n ; thus it is written, And the 
peoples shall be as the burnings of lime; as thorns cut down, 
that are burned in the fire (Isa. xxxra, 12). 

R. Levi made another comment: Abraham was fearful, 
saying, ' Perhaps the sons of the kings that I slew will collect 
troops and come and wage war against me/ Therefore the 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to him : 'Fear not, 
Abram, I am thy shield: just as a shield receives 
all spears and withstands them, so will I stand by thee.' 

The Rabbis explained it thus : Abraham was filled with 
misgivings, saying to himself, f I descended into the fiery 
furnace and was delivered ; I went through famine and war 
and was delivered: perhaps then I have already received 
my reward in this world and have nought for the future 
world ? ' Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, reassured 
him : 'Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield 
( m a G e n ) , meaning, a gift of grace (maggan) to thee, 
all that I have done for thee in this world I did for nought; 
but in the future that is to come, Thy reward shall 
be exceeding great', even as you read, Oh how 
abundant is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them 
that fear Thee, etc. (Ps. xxxi, 20). 

5. After (ahar) these things. R. Judan and R. 
Huna both said in the name of R. Jose b. R. Judan: 
Wherever ahare occurs it denotes 'in immediate con- 
nection with', whereas ahar denotes that there is no 

1 I.e. doomed to death. 

363 



XLIV. 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

connection. 1 R. Huna said: Wherever ahar is stated it 
denotes 'in immediate connection with', whereas ahare 
implies that there is no connection. 

After these things. Misgivings were entertained 
there. 2 Who entertained them ? Abraham. He said to God : 
' Sovereign of the Universe ! Thou madest a covenant with 
Noah not to exterminate his children; then I arose and 
accumulated meritorious acts and pious deeds, where- 
upon my covenant superseded his. Perhaps another will 
arise and accumulate even a greater store of precepts and 
good deeds, and then a covenant with him will supersede 
Thy covenant with me?' Said the Holy One, blessed be 
He, to him: 'From Noah I did not set up shields of the 
righteous, but from thee I set up shields of the righteous. 3 
Moreover, when thy children take to transgressions and 
evil deeds, I will see one righteous man amongst them who 
will be able to say to My Attribute of Justice, "Enough!" 
whereupon I will take him and make him atone for them/ 

6. The word of the Lord came unto Abram 
in A vision, etc. [Prophecy] is expressed by ten 
designations: prophecy, vision, preaching, 4 speech, saying, 
command, burden, parable, metaphor, and enigma. And 
which is the severest form? R. Leazar said: Vision, as it 
says, A grievous vision is declared unto me (Isa. xxi, 2). 
R. Johanan said: Speech (dibbur), as it says, The man, the 
lord of the land, spoke (dibber) roughly with us, etc. (Gen. 
xlii, 30). The Rabbis said: Burden, as it says, As a heavy 
burden (Ps. xxxvin, 5). Great then was the power of 
Abraham that [Divine] converse was held with him in 
vision and in speech. 

1 Both ahar and afyare (the second is the pi. const, form of the first) 
mean after. When a passage is introduced by ahare it implies that its 
contents are closely connected with what precedes it; whereas ahar 
merely implies that one episode followed the other but was unconnected 
with it. Y. T. : this distinction holds good only in the phrase ' after these 
things'. 2 This is a play on words, ahar, 'after,' being connected 

with hirhur, ' misgiving.' 

3 Th.: I did not say to Noah, 'I am thy shield/ as I said to thee. Radal 
and Mah.: Noah's descendants could not shield their contemporaries, 
that I should forgive them for their sake. 4 Lit. 'flow of words'. 

364 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 7-8 

7. Fear not, Abram. Whom did he fear? R. 
Berekiah said: He feared Shem, 1 as it is written, The isles 
saw, and feared (Isa. xli, 5) : just as islands stand out in the 
sea, so were Abraham and Shem outstanding in the world. 
'And feared 3 : Each one feared the other. The former 
feared the latter, thinking, Perhaps he nurses resentment 
against me for slaying his sons. And the latter feared the 
former, thinking, Perhaps he nurses resentment against 
me for begetting wicked offspring. The ends of the earth 
(ib.) : One dwelt at one end of the world and the other dwelt 
at another end of the world. 2 They drew near, and came 
(ib.): each approached the other. They helped every one 
his neighbour (ib. 6): each helped the other. One helped 
the other with blessings, as it says, And he blessed him, and 
said: Blessed be Abram, etc. (Gen. xiv, 19). 3 And the other 
helped the former with gifts, as it says, And he gave him 
a tenth of all (ib. 20). So the carpenter encouraged (Isa. 
xli, 7): this alludes to Shem, who made the Ark 4 ; The 
refiner (ib.) : this is Abraham, whom the Holy One, blessed 
be He, refined [tried] in the fiery furnace. And he that 
smootheih with the hammer him that smiteth the anvil — 
pa'am (ib.): he smoothed with the hammer and beat all 
mankind into one path (pa'am). 5 Saying of the join: It is 
good (ib.) : This refers to the nations of the world, who said : 
It is better to be joined to the God of Abraham than to the 
idol of Nimrod. And he strengthened it with nails (ib.): 
Abraham strengthened Shem in religious acts and pious 
deeds ; He shall not be moved (ib.) : viz. Abraham. 

8. And Abram said: O Lord God, what 
wilt Thou give me (xv, 2)? R. Jonathan said: 
Three persons were bidden 'ask', viz.: Solomon, Ahaz, 
and the King Messiah. Solomon: Ask what I shall give 
thee (1 Kings in, 5). Ahaz: Ask thee a sign (Isa. vn, 11). 

1 Whose descendants, viz. Chedorlaomer and his sons, Abraham had 
slain. a Th.: Abraham and Shem dwelt in Transjordania and 

Jerusalem respectively, which were regarded as ends of the world. 
3 Shem is identified with Melchizedek. * Together with Noah. 
5 He directed all to the fear of God. 

3^5 



XLIV. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

The King Messiah: Ask of Me, etc. (Ps. 11, 8). R. 
Berekiah and R. Ahi in the name of R. Samuel b. Nahman 
said: We can cite another two from the Haggadah: 
Abraham and Jacob. Abraham: What wilt Thou 
give me? He could not say, What wilt Thou give 
m E , unless He [G o d] had previously said to him, 
'Ask.' Jacob said, And of all that Thou shalt give me (Gen. 
xxviii, 22), and he would not say, 'And of all that Thou shalt 
give me 3 unless He had previously said to him: 'Ask/ 

9. R. Judan and R. Aibu in R. Johanan's name said: 
Two men said the same thing, Abraham and David. 
Abraham said : O Lord God: ' Sovereign of the 
Universe/ he cried out to Him, 'if I am destined to beget 
children who will anger Thee, 'twere better for me 
That I go childless.' David said: Search me, O 
God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts — 
sar'appay (Ps. cxxxix, 23) — know those who have sprung 
from me. 1 And see if there be any way in me that is grievous, 
and lead me in the way everlasting (ib. 24): 'Sovereign 
of the Universe!' he pleaded, 'if I am to beget children to 
provoke Thee, 'twere better for me that Thou didst lead 
me in the way everlasting.' 2 

And he that shall be possessor (ben meshek) 
of my house, etc. (xv, 2). R. Leazar said in the name 
of R. Jose b. Zimra: Ben Meshek bethi (my house) 
alludes to Lot, whose soul, [said Abraham,] longs 
(shokeketh) to be my heir. Is Damesek Eliezer [E.V. 
'Eliezer of Damascus']: this means, for whose sake 
I pursued the kings as far as Damascus and God helped 
me. 3 R. Simeon b. Lakish said : Ben Meshee; bethi 
means 'The son of my household' 4 ; is Eliezer 
of Damascus — i.e. by his assistance I pursued the 
kings as far as Damascus, and his name was actually 
Eliezer ; for it says, He led forth his trained men, three 

1 Th.rHe appears to translate sar'appay 'my branches' — metaphorically, 
my sons; cf. Ezek. xxxr, 5. 2 I.e. death. 

3 Reading Eli 'ezer: my God helped me. 

4 I.e. the steward of my house (M.K.). 

366 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 9-I2 

hundred and eighteen (Gen. xiv, 14), the numerical value 
of Eliezer being three hundred and eighteen. 1 

10. And Abram said: Behold, to me Thou 
hast given no seed (xv, 3). R. Samuel b. Isaac 
commented : [Abraham said :] My planetary fate oppresses 
me and declares, 'Abram cannot beget a child/ Said the 
Holy One, blessed be He, to him: 'Let it be even as thy 
words: Abram and Sarai cannot beget but Abraham and 
Sarah can beget/ 2 

11. And, behold, the word of the Lord 
came unto him, etc. (xv, 4). R. Judan and R. Leazar 
in R. Jose's name said: [We have here,] The Lord 
[spoke] to him; the word of the Lord came 
unto him; and, behold, the word of the 
Lord came unto him 3 : this signifies, angel after 
angel, angel after angel; speech after speech, speech after 
speech ; implying, I and three of my angels reveal ourselves 
to thee and say to thee, 'Lot is accursed, 4 he shall not be 
Abraham's heir/ R. Huna and R. Leazar said in R. Jose's 
name: It is written, And, behold, . . . the Lord: 
thus He came and spoke with him. 5 

12. And He brought him forth without — 
ha-huzah (xv, 5). R. Joshua said in R. Levi's name: 
Did He then lead him forth without the world, that it says, 
And He brought him forth without? It means, 
however, that He showed him the streets of heaven, as you 
read, While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the outer 
spaces — huzoth (Prov. vm, 26). 6 R. Judah b. R. Simon 

1 Cf. supra, xliii, 2. 

2 By changing your names I will free you from your planetary fate. 

3 I.e. instead of the simple And the Lord said, which is usual, we have, 
The Lord (spoke) to him ; as if that were not enough, The word 
is added, and on top of that there is the further addition of A N D» 
behold. Each addition implies an additional messenger of God's 
word. 4 This is a play on words, Lot is lita y accursed. 

5 Not an angel. The names cause some difficulty here. Th. suggests that 
R. Huna stated that R. Eleazar said this in R. Jose's name, not as was 
previously stated. 

6 By contrast, huzoth is understood to mean the heavens; E.V. ' the fields' '. 
' Ha-huzah ' and huzoth are both derived from the same root. 

367 



XLXV. 12] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said in R. Johanan's name: He lifted him up above the 
vault of heaven ; hence He says to him, Look 
(habbet) now toward heaven, habbet signifying 
to look down from above. 1 The Rabbis said: [God said to 
him]: 'Thou art a prophet, not an astrologer/ as it says, 
Now therefore restore the man's wife, for he is a prophet 
(Gen. xx, 7).* 

In the days of Jeremiah the Israelites wished to entertain 
this belief [in astrology], but the Holy One, blessed be He, 
would not permit them. Thus it is written, Thus saith the 
Lord : Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed 
at the signs of heaven, etc. (Jer. x, 2): your ancestor 
Abraham wished to entertain this belief long ago, but I 
would not permit him. 

R. Levi said: While the sandal is on your foot tread 
down the thorn ; he who is placed below them fears them, 
but thou [Abraham] art placed above them, 3 so trample 
them down [ignore them]. 

R. Judan said in R. Leazar's name : Three things nullify 
a decree [of evil], viz. prayer, righteousness, 4 and 
repentance. And the three are enumerated in one verse: 
If My people, upon whom My Name is called, shall humble 
themselves, and pray (11 Chron. vn, 14) — here you have 
prayer ; And seek My face (ib.) alludes to righteousness, 
as you read, / shall behold Thy face in righteousness (Ps. 
xvii, 15); And turn from their evil ways (11 Chron. loc. cit.) 
denotes repentance; after that, Then will I forgive their sin 
(ib.). R. Huna said in R. Joseph's name: Also change of 
name and good deeds. Change of name is learned from 
Abraham and Sarah. 5 Good deeds, from the people of 
Nineveh, for it says, And God saw their works, that they 
turned from their evil ways (Jonah in, 10). Some say, change 
of place, too, for it says, Now the Lord said unto Abram : 



1 Hence thou art now above thy fate, and canst ignore it. 

2 Cf. Shab. 156a and Ned. 32a on this and the following passages. 

8 Either metaphorically: you are superior to the influence of planets; 
or actually, as stated above. 

4 Or, charity. The same word zedakah means both, charity being regarded 
as simple righteousness. 6 V. p. 367, n. 2. 

368 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 12-14 

Get thee out of thy country, etc. (Gen. xn, i). 1 R. Huna 
said: Also fasting, as it says, The Lord answer thee in the 
day of trouble (Ps. xx, 20). 2 Raba b. Mehasia and R. rjama 
b. Guria said in Rab's name: Fasting is as effective for 
counteracting an evil dream as fire for consuming tow. 
R. Joseph said : Providing it is done on the same day, even 
on the Sabbath. 

13. And he believed in the Lord * . . and 
He said unto him: I am the Lord that brought 
thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, etc. (xv, 6 f.). R. 
Liezer b. Jacob said: Michael descended and rescued 
Abraham from the fiery furnace. The Rabbis said: The 
Holy One, blessed be He, rescued him; thus it is written, 
I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur 
of the Chaldees. 3 And when did Michael descend? 
In the case of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 

14. And he said: O Lord God, whereby shall 
I know that I shall inherit it (xv, 8)? R. Hama 
b. Hanina said: [He spoke] not as one making a complaint, 
but he asked Him: 'Through what merit [will I inherit 
the land] ? ' God replied : ' Through the merit of the atoning 
sacrifices which I will institute for thy sons/ 4 

And He said unto him: Take me a heifer of 
three years old (meshulsheleth) , a she-goat 
of three years old (meshulsheleth) , and a 

RAM OF THREE YEARS OLD (MESHULASH), etc. 

(xv, 9 f.). He showed him three kinds of bullocks, three kinds 
of goats, and three kinds of rams. 5 Three kinds of bullocks : 
the bullock sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, the 

1 And only then Will I make thee a great nation (ib. 2), the change of place 
changing his destiny, which was to be childless. 

2 I.e. in a day of fasting, which was proclaimed in dire trouble. 

3 This is the source of the famous legend that Abraham was thrown into 
a fiery furnace. The Hebrew for Ur is iin, which also means fire, and is so 
translated here: I brought thee forth from the fire of the Chaldees. 

* As the next verse says : Take me a heifer , etc. 

5 The Midrash translates ' meshuhheleth' , three-fold, three kinds — i.e. 

for three different purposes, as explained in the text. 

369 Bb 



XLIV. 14-15] MIDRASH RABBAH 

bullock brought on account of [the unwitting transgression 
of] any of the precepts, 1 and the heifer whose neck was 
broken. 2 Three kinds of goats: the goats sacrificed on 
festivals, the goats sacrificed on New Moon, and the goat 
brought by an individual. 3 Three kinds of rams : the guilt- 
offering of certain obligation, 4 the guilt-offering of doubt, 5 
and the lamb [sin-offering] brought by an individual. 6 
And a turtle-dove (tor) and a young pigeon 
(gozal): that is, a turtle-dove and a young pigeon. 7 

And He took him all these, etc. R. Simeon b. 
Yohai said: The Holy One, blessed be He, showed 
Abraham all the atoning sacrifices save the tenth of an 
ephah [of fine meal]. 8 The Rabbis said : He showed him the 
tenth of an ephah [of fine meal] also ; for all these is 
stated here, while elsewhere it is said, And thou shalt bring 
the meal-offering that is made of these things (Lev 11, 8). 9 

But the bird divided he not. He intimated to 
him that the fowl burnt-offering is divided, but the fowl 
sin-offering 10 is not divided. 1 - 1 

15. Another interpretation : Take me a heifer 
threefold: this alludes to Babylonia, which produced 
three kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, and 
Balshazzar; And a she- goat threefold: this alludes 
to Media, which produced three kings: Cyrus, Darius, 
and Ahasuerus 12 ; And a ram threefold: this alludes 
to Greece. R. Leazar and R. Johanan explained how. 
R. Leazar said: She conquered all parts [of the world] 

I V. Lev. iv, 13 f. 2 V. Deut. xxi, 1-9. 3 V. Lev. iv, 27 f. 

4 E.G., a leper when he became clean, a nazirite when he completed his 
naziriteship, and several other cases. V. Num. vi, 12; Lev. xrv, 24; 
v, 15; xix, 20. 5 To which one is liable when hi doubt whether he 

committed a transgression which if certainly committed would have 
involved a sin-offering. 8 V. Lev. iv, 32. 

7 The Hebrew is translated into the more familiar Aramaic. All these are 
regarded as atoning sacrifices, as stated at the beginning of the section. 

8 V. Lev. v, 1 1 . R. Simeon finds no allusion to this in the present verse. 
8 The use of these in both verses hints that the same thing is referred to in 
both cases. 10 Which the dove and young pigeon symbolised. 

II V. Zeb. vi, 4, 5; Hul. 2,1b. 12 Only the kings who impinged upon 
Jewish history are taken into account. 

37° 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 15-16 

save the east. Said R. Johanan to him : Even so it is written, 
/ saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and south- 
ward; and no beasts could stand before him (Dan. vin, 4), 
and that is his [R. Eleazar's] reason too, since eastward is 
not stated. 1 And a turtle-dove and a young 
pigeon (gozal). This refers to Edom [Rome]: it was 
a turtle-dove, but of a predatory nature. 2 

And he took him all these. R. Judah said: He 
showed him the princes of the Gentile nations. R. 
Nehemiah said : He showed him the princes of Israel. On 
the view of R. Judah, [He laid each half over 
against the other symbolised] the throne of one 
[prince] opposing the throne of another. 3 According to 
R. Nehemiah, it symbolised the place where the great 
Sanhedrin [Court] of Israel sat and determined the laws of 
Israel. 4 

But the bird divided he not. R. Abba b. 
Kahana said in R. Levi's name: The Holy One, blessed 
be He, intimated to him that he who attempts to resist 
the wave is swept away by it, but he who bends before it is 
not swept away by it. 5 

16. And the birds of prey came down upon 
the carcases and Abram drove them away (xv, 
11). R. Assi said: Abraham took a flail and beat them, but 
they were not smitten [killed], yet even so, Abram 



1 This verse of Daniel is understood to allude to Greece. Rashash, 
however, points out that in w. 20, 21, the ram is related to Media and 
Persia, while the he-goat symbolises Greece. Consequently he reverses 
the reading here, too. Mah. does not reverse the text, but explains it 
differently. 

2 This interprets gozal not 'a young pigeon* but as an attribute (fr. 
gozal, to rob); a robber turtle-dove. This comment on Edom (Rome) 
was natural enough to the Rabbis. 

8 He showed him the hostility of the nations toward each other, in contrast 
with which the bird, symbolising Israel, was not to be divided but 
united ('E.J.). 

* The Sanhedrin sat in crescent-shaped rows, so that the ends could see 
each other (Sanh. rv, 3) ; hence that too can be symbolised in this verse. 
5 Only by such a course could the bird — symbolical of Israel — be saved 
from being cut up and destroyed. 

371 



XLIV. 16-17] MIDRASH RABBAH 

drove them away ( wa yy ashsheb) — by repentance. 1 
R. 'Azariah said: [God hinted to Abram]: When thy 
children become as carcases [corpses] without sinews 
or bones, thy merit will support them. 2 

17. And it came to pass, that, when the sun 
was going down, etc. (xv, 12). R. Joshua of Siknin 3 
said in R. Levi's name: The beginning of a man's down- 
fall is sleep : being asleep, he does not engage in study and 
does no work. Rab said: There are three kinds of torpor 
(tarde?nah); the torpor of sleep, the torpor of prophecy, 
and the torpor of unconsciousness. The torpor of sleep: 
Then the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, 
and he slept {Gen. 11, 21). The torpor of prophecy: And 
it came to pass, that, when the sun was going 
down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram. The torpor 
of unconsciousness : And no man saw it, nor knew it, neither 
did any awake ; for they were all asleep ; because a deep sleep 
from the Lord was fallen upon them (1 Sam. xxvi, 12). The 
Rabbis said: Also the torpor of folly, as it is written, 
Stupefy yourselves, and be stupid! . . . For the Lord hath 
poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep (Isa. xxix, 9 f.). 
R. Hanina [or R. rjinena] b. Isaac said: There are three 
incomplete phenomena: the incomplete experience of 
death is sleep; an incomplete form of prophecy is the 
dream; the incomplete form of the next world is the 
Sabbath. R. Abin added another two : the incomplete form 
of the heavenly light is the orb of the sun ; the incomplete 
form of the heavenly wisdom is the Torah. 4 

And, lo, a dread, even a great darkness, 
fell upon him (ib.). Dread refers to Babylon, as it 

1 The birds of prey represent the nations swooping down on Israel. 
Abram — i.e. Israel — tried to beat them off by physical force but without 
success, and it is only when Israel turns to God in penitence that his 
enemies are driven off. ' Wayy ashsheb' is thus connected with teshubah, 
repentance. 

2 He interprets the verse in the same way, but relates 'carcases' to Israel 
defeated and despoiled; it is then that Abraham's merit will disperse 
the birds of prey. 

3 North of Jotapata in Galilee. 4 The whole passage supra, xvn, 5. 

372 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 17-18 

is written, Then was Nebuchadnezzar filled with fury (Dan. 
in, 19). l Darkness refers to Media, which darkened 
the eyes of Israel with fasting and tribulation ; Great 
refers to Greece. R. Simon said : The Kingdom of Greece 
set up one hundred and twenty commanders, one hundred 
and twenty governors, and one hundred and twenty 
generals. The Rabbis said : Sixty of each, for it is written, 
Serpents, fiery serpents, and scorpions (Deut. vin, 15) 2 : 
just as the scorpion lays sixty eggs at a time, so did the 
Greek state set up sixty of each. Fell upon him 
alludes to Edom [Rome], as it is written, The earth quaketh 
at the noise of their fall (Jer. xlix, 21). 3 Some reverse it: 
Fell upon him (ib.) alludes to Babylon, as it is 
written, Fallen, fallen is Babylon (Isa. xxi, 9). Great 
alludes to Media, as it is written, King Ashuerus did make 
great, etc. (Est. 111, 1). Darkness alludes to Greece 
that darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees. 4 
Dread alludes to Edom, as it is written, After this I saw 
. . . a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible (Dan. vn, 7). s 

18. And He said unto Abram: Know, yea 
know (xv, 13): Know that I shall disperse thy seed; 
know that I will gather them together, know that I will give 
them in pledge, 6 know that I will redeem them; know that I 
will allow them to be enslaved, know that I will free them. 

That thy seed shall be a stranger in a 
land that is not theirs, and shall serve 
them, and they shall afflict them four hun- 
dred years: this means, until four hundred years 
after seed shall be granted to thee. 7 R. Judan said : The 



1 The word for ' fury ' (n»\-i) is somewhat similar to that used for 

dread (mrx). 2 This is symbolically applied to Babylon, Media, and 

Greece respectively. 

8 This refers to Edom, as is stated in the preceding verse q.v. 

4 Cf. supra, 11, 4; xvi, 4. 5 The fourth beast was applied to Edom. 

6 The exile is regarded as putting Israel in pledge to expiate their sins. 

7 I.e. Four hundred years does not apply to Serve them, 
and they shall afflict them (in actual fact the oppression in 
Egypt lasted much less) but to Thy seed shall be a stranger, 
and this period is counted from the birth of Isaac. 

373 



XLIV. l8-20] MIDRASH RABBAH 

condition of being strangers, in servitude, and afflicted 
in a land not theirs was to last four hundred years, which 
was their decreed term. 1 

9. And also that nation, whom they shall 
serve, etc. (xv, 14). R. iHelbo said: Instead of, 'And 
that nation/ Scripture writes And also that nation 
whom they shall serve: this indicates, also they 
[Abraham's descendants,] also Egypt and the four king- 
doms 2 which will subjugate thee. 3 

Will I judge (dan). R. Eleazar said in R. Jose's 
name: The Holy One, blessed be He, promised our fore- 
father that He would redeem his children with these two 
letters 4 ; but if they repented, He would redeem them with 
seventy- two letters. R. Judan said: In the passage, [Or 
hath God assayed] to go and take Him a nation from the 
midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, 
and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched 
arm, and by great terrors (Deut. IV, 34), you will find 
seventy-two letters; and should you object that there are 
seventy-five, deduct the second 'nation, 1 which is not to 
be counted. 5 R. Abin said: He redeemed them by His 
name, the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, con- 
sisting of seventy-two letters. 6 

20. And afterwards (ahare ken) they shall 
come out with great substance. R. Aha said: 

1 The passage is rather obscure. It apparently means, like the preceding 
statement, that only the three things together would occupy four hundred 
years. Th. reduces the time still further by translating, would be spread 
over four hundred years, the time being counted from Isaac's birth, the 
condition of an alien being held to apply to Abraham when he had to 
dwell in the country of the Philistines, and to Isaac when in Gerar, and 
to Jacob in Haran. 

2 Sc. Babylon, Persia, Media, Rome. Also (Heb. gam) is generally 
treated as an extension ; according to R. Helbo's interpretation it means 
that not only should Abraham's seed serve strangers, but in the fulness 
of time Egypt and the other four kingdoms too would be subjugated. 

3 Further, he appears to translate: And also the nation which will put 
thee to service. 4 Viz. \i (I will judge). 

5 In the Hebrew that passage contains seventy-two letters. 

6 The longest form of God's name, of which there were several. V.J.E 
art.. 'Names of God'. 

374 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) |A^ iv - 20-3I 

Not ahar is written here but ah a re 1 : this teaches, 
when I have visited ten plagues upon them, then 
They shall come out with great substance. 
Said he [Abraham] to Him : ' Shall I too be included in this 
servitude?' 'But thou shalt go to thy fathers 

IN PEACE; THOU SHALT BE BURIED IN A GOOD OLD 

age' (ib. 15), He assured him. R. Simeon b. Lakish said: 
Of three men was 'In a good old age' said: Abraham 
deserved it, David deserved it, but Gideon did not deserve 
it. Why? Because, And Gideon made an ephod thereof 
(Judg. viii, 27)— for idolatry. 

21. And it cameto pass, that, when the sun 

WENT DOWN, AND THERE WAS THICK DARKNESS 

(xv, 17) : there was intense darkness. 2 

Behold a smoking furnace and a flaming 
torch. Simeon b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: He 
[God] showed him four things, viz. Gehenna, the [foreign] 
kingdoms, 3 Revelation, and the Temple, with the promise: 
As long as thy children occupy themselves with the latter 
two, they will be saved from the former two ; if they neglect 
the latter two they will be punished by the former two. 
Wouldst thou rather that thy children descend into 
Gehenna or into the power of the [foreign] kingdoms? 
He asked him. R. Hinena b. Papa said: Abraham himself 
chose [subjection to foreign] powers. R. Judan, R. Idi, 
and R. Hama b. R. IJanina said : Abraham chose Gehenna, 
but the Holy One, blessed be He, chose [subjection to 
foreign] powers for him. Thus it is written, How should 
one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, 
except their rock had given them over (Deut. xxxn, 30) — 
this alludes to Abraham ; And the Lord had delivered them 
up (ib.)} this teaches that God approved his choice. 4 R. 
Huna said in R. Aha's name: Abraham sat wondering all 

1 i-inx Both mean after; here the longer form, containing an additional 
yod (= 10) is used. 

2 The Hebrew is translated by Aramaic. 

3 Which would conquer Israel; v. p. 374, n. z. 

4 This agrees with R. Hinena b. Papa. 

375 



XLIV. 21-22] MIDRASH RABBAH 

day, thinking, 'Which should I choose?' Whereupon the 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, 'Make a decision 
without delay'; hence it is written, In that day the Lord 
made 1 a covenant with Abram, etc. (Gen. xv, 18). In this 
matter we come back to the controversy of R. tlinena b. 
Papa and R. Judan, R. Idi, and R. Hana b. R. Ilanina. R. 
Ilinena b. Papa said: Abraham himself chose [subjection 
to other] powers. R. Judan, R. Idi, and R. IJama b. R. 
Ilanina said on the authority of a certain sage in Rabbi's 
name: The Holy One, blessed be He, chose the [foreign] 
kingdoms for him. Thus it is written, Thou hast caused 
men to ride over our heads (Ps. lxvi, 12), meaning, Thou 
didst cause nations to ride over our heads, which is as 
though We went through fire and through water (z"Z>.). 2 
R. Joshua said: He also showed him the dividing of the 
Red Sea, for it is written, That passed between 

THESE PIECES — GEZARIM (Gen. he. tit.), GEZARIM 

having the same meaning] as in the verse, [O give thanks 
. . .] to Him who divided the Red Sea in sunder — gezarim 
(Ps. cxxxvi, 13). 

22. IN THAT DAY THE LORD MADE A COVENANT 

with Abram (xv, 18). R. Judan said: R. Johanan b. 
Zakkai and R. Akiba disagree. One maintains : This world 
He revealed to him, 3 but not the next. The other maintains 
that He revealed to him both this world and the next. 
R. Berekiah said: R. Leazar and R. Jose b. R. IJanina 
disagreed. One maintained: He revealed to him [the 
future] until that day; while the other said: He revealed 
to him the future from that day. 4 

Unto thy seed have I given this land. R. 
Huna and R. Dostai said in the name of R. Samuel b. 

1 Lit. 'cut* — i.e. helped Abraham to make his decision. 

2 Sc. Gehenna — i.e. our servitude should now exempt us from Gehenna. 
V. Ex. R. li, 7. s I.e. the future of Israel in this world. 

* The discussion turns on the implication of In that day. R. 
Berekiah apparently states that one held that God revealed Israel's 
future to Abraham only until that day, viz. when Israel would leave 
Egypt, while the other held that He revealed the future to him from the 
Exodus until Messiah's coming (M.K.). 

376 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLIV. 22-23 

Nahman: The mere speech of the Holy One, blessed be 
He, is equivalent to action, for it says, Unto thy 
seed have I given: not 'I will give', but Have I 
G I v e n .! R. Judan said in R. Abba's name : It is not written, 
So let the redeemed of the Lord say whom He redeemeth, 
but, Whom He hath redeemed (Ps. cvn, 2). R. Abin said : 
It is not written, For the Lord ransometh Jacob, but For 
the Lord hath ransomed Jacob (Jer. xxxi, 11). The Rabbis 
said: It is not written, / will hiss for them, and gather them, 
for I will redeem them, but 'For I have redeemed them* 
(Zech. x, 8). R. Joshua said: It is not written, 'And the 
Lord will create (we-yibra),' but, And the Lord has created 
(u-bara) 2 . . . a cloud and smoke by day, etc. (Isa. IV, 5) : 
it has long been created and ready. 

23. The Kenite, and theKenizzite, and 

THE KADMONITE, AND THE HlTTITE, AND THE 
PERIZZITE, AND THE REPHAIM, AND THE AMORITE, 
AND THE CANAANITE, AND THE GlRGASHITE, AND 

the Jebusite (xv, 1 9 f.). R. Dostai said in the name 
of R. Samuel b. Nahman: Because the Hivite is not 
mentioned here 3 the Rephaim are substituted in their 
stead. R. tjelbo said in R. Abba's name in R. Johanan's 
name: The Holy One, blessed be He, did at first con- 
template giving Israel possession of ten peoples, but He 
gave them only seven, the other three being, The 
Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kad- 
monite. Rabbi said: They are Arabia, the Shalamite, 
and the Nabatean. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: They are 
the Damascus region, Asia Minor, 4 and Apamea. 5 R. Liezer 
b. Jacob said: Asia Minor, Thrace, and Carthage. 6 The 

1 Thus His mere promise is as though it were already fulfilled. 

E.V. 'will create' . U-bara is perfect tense with the waw conversive, 
but R. Joshua translates it as a simple perfect: has created. 

3 V. Deut. vii, 1 . 

4 Jast. : The Roman province embracing the west part of the peninsula 
of Asia Minor, bequeathed by King Attalus to the Roman Republic. 

5 Several towns, especially one in Bithynia, one in Mesopotamia, and 
one in Syria (Jast.). 6 For a discussion of the various places 
mentioned in this passage, v. Th. ad loc. 

377 



XLIV. 23] MTDRASH RABBAH 

Rabbis said: Edom, Moab, and the chief of the children 
of Ammon 1 are the three nations that were not given to 
them in this world, as it is said, For I will not give you of 
their land, etc. (Deut. 11, 5). But in the days of the Messiah 
they shall once again belong to Israel, 2 in order to fulfil 
God's promise. Now, however, He has given them but 
seven, as it says, Seven nations greater and mightier than 
thou (ib. vii, 1). R. Isaac said: The swine grazes with ten 
of its young whereas the sheep does not graze even with 
one. 3 Thus, all these, viz. The Kenite, the Keniz- 
zite, etc. [were promised to Abraham's seed], yet so 
far, Sarai Abraham's wife bore him no children (Gen. 
xvi, 1) ! 

1 The language is Biblical; v. Dan. XI, 41. 

2 'Once again* — as though through God's promise this had already been 
the case. 

8 This was proverbial : the unclean swine is always surrounded by a large 
litter of its offspring, whereas the clean sheep is alone. 



378 



[XLV. i 
Chapter XLV (LECH LECHA) 

i. Now Sarai Abram's wife bore him no child- 
ren, etc. (xvi, i). It is written, A woman of valour who can 
find, for her price (mikrah) is far above rubies (Prov. xxxi, 
10). What does 'mikrah 1 mean? R. Abba b. Kahana said: 
Her pregnancy, 1 as you read, Thine origin (mekuroth) 
and thy nativity (Ezek. xvi, 3). 2 Now Abram was a year 
older than Nahor, and Nahor was a year older than Haran; 
[hence Abram was] two years older [than Haran; deduct] 
the year of pregnancy with Milcah and the year of 
pregnancy with Iscah, and you find that Haran begot 
children at six years of age, yet you say that Abram could 
not beget? Hence, Now Sarai Abram's wife bore 

HIM NO CHILDREN. 3 

Did not bear to him. R. Judah said: To him 
teaches that she did not bear to Abram, but had she been 
married to another she would have borne children. R. 
Nehemiah said: Neither to him nor to anyone else. How 
then does R. Nehemiah interpret Did not bear to 
him? Interpret to him and to her, 4 thus: She did 
not bear to herself — on Sarai's own account — nor T o 
H I M — on Abram's account. 

And she had a handmaid, an Egyptian. She 
was a handmaid of 'plucking' 5 whom he was bound to 
support but might not sell. R. Simeon b. Lakish was asked: 
What is the meaning of what we learnt 6 : ' Servants of 
plucking'? 'What you pluck, you pluck/ he answered. 7 

1 Y.T. : Righteous women, as in the case of Sarah, find pregnancy more 

difficult of attainment than rubies. 

8 'Origin,' by contrast with 'nativity', is understood to mean pregnancy, 

conception, and mikrah is now identified with mekurah, pi. mekuroth, 

3 V. supra, xxxvin, 14, for notes. 

* The verse continues: And to her was a handmaid (E.V. 'and she had a 

handmaid'). R. Nehemiah reads Did not bear together with T o 

him and (disregarding the punctuation) to her. 

5 This is a technical term, describing the portion of a wife's dowry, the 

usufruct of which the husband enjoys without responsibility for loss or 

deterioration. From the term she had it is deduced that Abram's rights 

in her were limited. 6 Yeb. vn, 1. 7 I.e. you (sc. the husband) 

enjoy the usufruct without any further responsibility in the same. 

379 



XLV. 1-2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Hagar was Pharaoh's daughter. 
When Pharaoh saw what was done on Sarah's behalf in 
his own house, 1 he took his daughter and gave her to Sarah, 
saying, Better let my daughter be a handmaid in this 
house than a mistress in another house ' ; thus it is written, 
And she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose 
name was Hagar, he (Pharaoh) saying, 'Here is thy 
reward (agar),' 2 Abimelech, too, when he saw the 
miracles performed in his house on Sarah's behalf, gave 
his daughter to her, saying, 'Better let my daughter be a 
handmaid in this house than a mistress in another/ as it is 
written, Kings' daughters are among thy favourites (Ps. xlv, 
10): viz. the daughters of [two] kings. 3 At thy right hand 
doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir (ib.) — this alludes 
to Sarai. 

2. And Sarai said unto Abram: Behold now, 
the Lord hath restrained me from bearing, 
etc. (xvi, 2). Said she : I know the source of my affliction : 
it is not as people say [of a barren woman], 'she needs a 
talisman, she needs a charm,' 4 but Behold now, 
the Lord hath restrained me from bearing. 

It may be that I shall be builded up 
through her. It was taught : He who has no child 
is as though he were dead and demolished. As though dead : 
And she said unto Jacob : Give me children, or else I am dead 
(Gen. xxx, 1). 5 As though demolished: It may be 

THAT I SHALL BE BUILDED UP THROUGH HER, and 

only that which is demolished must be builded up. 

And Abram hearkened to t&e voice of Sarai. 
R. Jose said : To the voice of the Holy Spirit, 6 as you read, 
Now therefore hearken unto the voice of the words of the Lord 
(1 Sam. xv, 1). 

1 V. Gen. xii, 17. 2 A play on the name Hagar. 

3 Viz. Pharaoh and Abimelech. 

i Both the text and the meaning are doubtful, and the translation is only 

a conjecture. 

5 Lit. translation. E.V. ' or else I die*. 

6 Which he felt moved her to speak. 

380 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLV. 3-4 

3. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar the 
Egyptian (xvi, 3). She persuaded [took] her with words : 
' Happy art thou to be united to so holy a man/ she urged. 

After Abram had dwelt ten years in the 
land of Canaan. R. Ammi said in the name of Resh 
Lakish: What is the source of what we learned 1 : If a man 
married a woman and spent ten years with her and she 
did not bear a child, he may not stay sterile? 2 This verse : 
After Abram had dwelt ten years: this proves 
that the time he spent without the Land 3 was not included 
in the reckoning. 

And gave her to Abram her husband to be 
a wife to him, but not to another; To be a wife, 
but not a concubine. 4 

4. And he went in unto Hagar, and she con- 
ceived (xvi, 4). R. Levi b. Haytha said: She became 
pregnant through the first intimacy. R. Eleazar said: 
A woman never conceives by the first intimacy. An 
objection is raised: surely it is written, Thus were both the 
daughters of Lot with child by their father (Gen. xix, 36) ? 5 
Said R. Tanhuma: By an effort of will power 6 they brought 
forth their virginity, and thus conceived at the first act of 
intercourse. R. Hanina b. Pazzi observed: Thorns are 
neither weeded nor sown, yet of their own accord they grow 
and spring up, whereas how much pain and toil is required 
before wheat can be made to grow! 7 

Why were the matriarchs barren? R. Levi said in R. 
Shila's name and R. Helbo in R. Johanan's name: Because 
the Holy One, blessed be He, yearns for their prayers and 
supplications. Thus it is written, O my dove, thou art as the 
clefts of the rock (S.S. 11, 14) 8 : Why did I make thee barren? 
In order that, Let Me see thy countenance^ let Me hear thy 

1 Yeb. 64a. 2 But must remarry. 

3 Sc. Palestine, the hand par excellence. 

* Hagar was to enjoy all the rights of a wife. 

6 Though they were only once with him. 

6 Lit. 'they mastered themselves*. 

7 Thus Hagar conceived immediately, whereas Sarah had to wait a long 
time. 8 I.e. barren. E.V. 'in the clefts/ etc. 

381 



XLV. 4-5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

voice (tb.). 1 R. 'Azariah said in R. Hanina's name: So that 
they might lean on their husbands in [spite of] their beauty. 2 
R. Huna and R. Jeremiah in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba 
said : So that they might pass the greater part of their life 
untrammelled. R. Huna, R. Idi, and R. Abin in R. Meir's 
name said: So that their husbands might derive pleasure 
from them, for when a woman is with child she is dis- 
figured and lacks grace. Thus the whole ninety years that 
Sarah did not bear she was like a bride in her canopy. 

Ladies used to come to inquire how she was, and she 
would say to them, ' Go and ask about the welfare of this 
poor woman [Hagar].' Hagar would tell them: 'My 
mistress Sarai is not inwardly what she is outwardly: 
she appears to be a righteous woman, but she is not. For 
had she been a righteous woman, see how many years 
have passed without her conceiving, whereas I conceived 
in one night ! ' Said Sarah : ' Shall I pay heed to this woman 
and argue with her ! No ; I will argue the matter with her 
master ! ' 3 

5. And Sarai said unto Abram: My wrong 
(hamasi) be upon thee (xvi, 5). R. Judan explained 
this in R. Judah's name: Thou wrongest me with words, 
since thou hearest me insulted yet art silent. 4 R. Berekiah 
explained it in R. Abba's name : I have a grievance against 
thee. For imagine two men incarcerated in prison, and as 
the king passes one of them cries out, 'Execute justice 
for me!' The king orders him to be released, whereupon 
his fellow-prisoner says to him, ' I have a grievance against 
you, for had you said, " Execute justice for us," he would 
have released me just as he has released you ; but now that 

1 In prayer. 

2 The matriarchs, possessing both beauty and wealth, would have felt 
quite independent of their husbands had they also been blessed with 
children in their early years. 

3 This paragraph is a comment on the phrase, And when she 

SAW THAT SHE HAD CONCEIVED, HER MISTRESS WAS DESPISED 
IN HER EYES. 

4 'Hamasi' really means, 'what is stolen from me'. Sarah complained 
that Abraham robbed her of the words that he ought to speak on her 
behalf. 

382 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) * [XLV. 5 

you said, "Execute justice for me" he released you but 
not me/ Similarly, hadst thou said, ' We go childless/ 
then as He gave thee a child so would He have given me ; 
since, however, thou saidest, And I go childless (Gen. xv, 
2), He gave thee a child but not me. This may [also] be 
compared to two people who went to borrow seed from 
the king. One of them asked, 'Lend me seed/ and he 
ordered, 'Give it to him/ Said his companion to him, 'I 
have a grievance against you. Had you asked, "Lend us 
seed/' he would have given me just as he gave you; 
now however that you said, "Lend me seed/' he has given 
you but not me/ Similarly, hadst thou said, 'Behold, to 
us Thou hast given no seed/ then as He gave thee so had 
He given me. Now however that thou didst say, 'Behold, 
to me Thou hast given no seed' {ib. 3), He gave to thee but 
not to me. 

R. Menahema [Nehemiah] said in R. Abin's name : She 
scratched his face. 1 The Rabbis said: Women are said to 
possess four traits : they are greedy, eavesdroppers, slothful, 
and envious. Greedy, as it says, And she took of the fruit 
thereof, and did eat {ib. in, 6) ; eavesdroppers : And Sarah 
heard in the tent door {ib. xvin, 10); slothful: Make ready 
quickly three measures of fine meal {ib. 6) ; envious : Rachel 
envied her sister {ib. xxx, 1). R. Joshua b. Nehemiah said: 
She is also a scratcher and talkative. A scratcher : And 
Sarai said unto Abram: My scratch be upon 
thee. Talkative : And Miriam spoke against Moses (Num. 
xii, 1). R. Levi said: She is also prone to steal and a gad- 
about. Prone to steal : And Rachel stole the teraphim (Gen. 
xxxi, 19). A gadabout: And Dinah went out {ib. xxxiv, i). 2 

The Lord judge between me and thee (u- 
beneka). R. Tanhuma said in the name of R. Hiyya 
the Elder, and R. Berekiah said in R. Eleazar's name: 
Whoever plunges eagerly into litigation does not escape 
from it unscathed. Sarah should have reached Abraham's 
years, but because she said, The Lord judge 

1 By a play on words hamasi (E.V. 'my wrong') is derived from himmes, 
to scratch, and rendered: my scratch be upon thee. 

2 Cf. supra, xvin, 2. 

383 



XLV. 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

between me and thee, her life was reduced by 
forty-eight years. 

R. Hoshaya said: Binka (thy son) is written. 1 Seeing that 
it is already written, And he went in unto Hagar, and she 
conceived, why is it further stated, Behold, thou wilt con- 
ceive (ib. 11)? 2 This, however, teaches that an evil eye took 
possession of her and she miscarried. 3 R. Hanina observed: 
Had the prophet Elisha told her that by the Holy Spirit, 
it would have sufficed her. 4 

6. But Abram said unto Sarai: Behold, thy 
maid is in thy hand (xvi, 6). Said he: 'I am con- 
strained to do her neither good 5 nor harm/ 6 It is written, 
Thou shalt not deal with her as a slave, because thou hast 
humbled her (Deut. xxi, 14): after we have vexed her, can 
we now enslave her again? I am constrained to do her 
neither good nor harm. It is written, And Sarah dealt 
harshly with her, and she fled from her face (Gen. loc. cit.), 
while it is written, To sell her unto a foreign people he shall 
have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her 
(Ex. xxi, 8): after we have made her a mistress, 7 shall we 
make her a bondmaid again? I am constrained to do her 
neither good nor harm; hence it is written, And 
Sarah dealt harshly with her, and she fled 
from her face. 8 R. Abba said: She restrained her 
from cohabitation. R. Berekiah said: She slapped her face 
with a slipper. R. Berekiah said in R. Abba's name: She 
bade her carry her water buckets and bath towels to the 
baths. 9 

1 The word for And thee, Heb. T^i is written "pm, which 
may be read 1^1, and thy son, sc. the unborn Ishmael. Thus she 
called down God's wrath on him. (In cur. edd. of the Bible T^ai is 
actually written, but according to tradition each yod ("») is dotted, which 
means that it is disregarded.) 

2 Spoken by the angel to Hagar after her flight. 

8 Hence the angel told her that she would conceive again. 

4 How much greater then was the honour conferred upon her in that an 

angel spoke to her! 5 Because she has insulted you. 

6 Since she is now my wife. 7 I.e. given her the status of a wife. 

8 But not Abraham's. a This was the work of a slave. Thus she did not 

actually ill-treat her but made her do work unsuited to her new status. 

384 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLV. 7-8 

7. And the angel of the Lord found her . . . 
n the way to Shur (xvi, 7): on the road of 
lalizah. x 

And he said: Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, etc. 
xvi, 8). So runs the proverb : ' If one man tells you that 
fou have ass's ears, do not believe him; if two tell it to 
fou, order a halter/ Thus, Abraham said: Behold, thy 
maid is in thy hand (ib. 6) ; the angel said : Hagar, 
Sarai's handmaid, etc. Hence, And she said: I 
?lee from the face of my mistress sarai. 2 

And an angel of the Lord said unto her-, 
Return to thy mistress, etc. . . . and an angel 
df the Lord said unto her: I will greatly 
multiply thy seed, etc. (xvi, 9 f.). How many 
angels visited her? 3 R. tlama b. R, IJanina said: Five, for 
each time 'speech' is mentioned it refers to an angel. 
The Rabbis said: Four, this being the number of times 
f angel' occurs. R. tliyya observed: Come and see how great 
is the difference between the earlier generations and the 
later ones! What did Manoah say to his wife? We shall 
surely die, because we have seen God (Judg. xin, 22) 4 ; yet 
Hagar, a bondmaid, sees five angels and is not afraid of 
them ! R. Aha said : The finger-nail of the fathers rather 
than the stomach of the sons ! R. Isaac quoted : She seeth the 
ways of her household (Prov. xxxi, 27) : Abraham's house- 
hold were seers, so she [Hagar] was accustomed to them. 

8. And the angel of the Lord said unto her: 
Behold, thou art with child, etc. (xvi, 11). R. 
Isaac said: Three were called by their names before they 
were born, Isaac, Solomon, and Josiah. What is said in the 

1 The name in Aramaic. Shur was ' the wall ' or fortification which 

protected Egypt on the east from the incursions of raiding Bedouins 

(Hertz on Genesis, loc, cit.), 

8 In spite of her higher status (v. supra, 3) she recognised Sarai as her 

mistress. 

3 It is assumed that since And an angel of the Lord said 
unto her occurs more than once, though after the first time it is 
superfluous, different angels are referred to. 

4 Actually they had seen an angel; v. 13. 

385 cc 



XLV. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

case of Isaac? And God said: Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall 
bear thee a son; and thou shalt coil his name Isaac (Gen. 
xvn, 19). In the case of Solomon? Behold, a son shall be born 
to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest 
from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be 
Solomon (1 Chron. xxn, 9). In the case of Josiah? And he 
cried against the altar by the word of the Lord : O altar, altar, 
thus saith the Lord : Behold, a son shall be born unto the house 
of David, Josiah by name (1 Kings xm, 2). Some add 
Ishmael among the nations [i.e. non-Jews] : Behold, 

THOU ART WITH CHILD, AND SHALT BEAR A SON; 
AND THOU SHALT CALL HIS NAME ISHMAEL. 

9. And he shall be a pere (E.V. 'a wild ass') 
of A man (xvi, 12). R. Johanan and Resh Lakish debated 
this. R. Johanan said: It means that while all people are 
bred in civilised surroundings, he would be reared in the 
wilderness. Resh Lakish said : It means a savage among men 
in its literal sense, for whereas all others plunder wealth, 
he plunders lives. 

His hand shall be against every man, and 
every man's hand against him (kol bo). His 
hand and his dog's (kalbo) 1 are alike. Just as his dog eats 
carrion, so does he eat carrion. R. Eleazar said: When 
Shall his hand be against every man and 
every man's hand against him? When he shall 
come of whom it is written, And wheresoever the children 
of men, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the heaven 
dwell, hath He given them into thy hand (Dan. 11, 38). 2 
Hence it is written, Of Kedar, and of the kingdoms of Hazor, 
which Nebuchadrezzar smote (Jer. xlix, 28): his name is 
written 'Nebuchadrezzar', 3 because he shut them up 
('azuran)* in the wilderness and slew them. 

And he shall dwell in the face of all his 

1 'Kol bo' being read kalbo, his dog. 

2 I.e. in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, whose ruthless policy of conquest 
aroused the whole world against him. 

3 Instead of the more usual Nebuchadnezzar. 

4 A play on the name, which, with the present spelling, ends in azar 
(n*K) and is read as though it were 'azar (nxy), to shut up. 

386 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLV. g-io 

brethren. Here you say, He shall dwell, while 
elsewhere you read, He fell (Gen. xxv, 17)? As long as 
Abraham lived, He shall dwell; as soon as he 
died, 'He felV Before he stretched out his hand against 
the Temple, He shall dwell; as soon as he 
stretched out his hand against the Temple, ' He fell.' In 
this world, He shall dwell; in the next world, 
* He fell* [shall be applicable to him]. 1 

10. And she called the name of the Lord 
that spoke unto her (xvi, 13). R. Judah b. 
R. Simon and R. Johanan in the name of R. Eleazar b. R. 
Simeon said: The Holy One, blessed be He, never con- 
descended to hold converse with a woman save with that 
righteous woman [viz. Sarah], and that too was through 
a particular cause. R. Abba b. Kahana said in R. Birya's 
name: And what a roundabout way He took in order to 
speak with her, as it is written, And He said: Nay y but 
thou didst laugh (ib. xvm, 15)! But it is written, And 
she [Hagar] called the name of the Lord that 
spoke unto her? R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah answered 
in R. Idi's name: That was through an angel. But it 
is written: And the Lord said unto her — Rebekah (ib. 
xxv, 23)? R. Levi said in the name of R. Hama b. R. 
IJanina: That was through an angel. R. Leazar said in the 
name of R. Jose b. Zimra: That was through the medium 
of Shem. 2 

Thou art a God of seeing (El roi). R. Aibu 
explained it : Thou seest the sufferings of the persecuted. 

For she said: Have I even here (halom) seen 
him that seeth me. She said: I have been granted 
not only speech [with the angel], but even with royalty 
too, as you read, That Thou hast brought me thus far — 

1 Bacher suggests that the statement that Ishmael (which is not to be 
identified with Rome) attacked the Temple alludes either to Aretes, 
King of Nabatea, who attacked Aristobulus and besieged Jerusalem 
(v. Josephus, Ant. xiv, 3, § 1), or to the Arabian Prince who joined 
Vespasian's army. V. Th. ad loc. on the bearing of this passage on the date 
of the composition of Gen. Rabbah. 

2 V. supra, xx, 6. 

387 



XLV. IO] MIDRASH RABBAH 

halom (n Sam. vn, 18). 1 I was favoured [to see the angel] 
not only when with my mistress, but even now that I am 
alone. 2 R. Samuel said : This may be compared to a noble 
lady whom the king ordered to walk before him. She did 
so leaning on her maid and pressing her face against her. 3 
Thus her maid saw [the king], while she did not see him. 

1 Referring to David's royal rank. Thus here too ' halom* expresses 
Hagar's gratitude that kings would spring from her. Cur. edd. have here: 
Not only was I favoured to see the angel together with my mistress, 
but even my mistress who was with me did not see him (while I did). 
This explains the comparison that ends the section. 

2 Rendering : I have seen (the angels in the wilderness) after having seen 
them (at home); v. supra, 7. 

8 Hiding her face in modesty. 



388 



[AJUVl. 1-2 

Chapter XL VI (LECH LECHA) 

i. And Abram was ninety years old and nine, 
etc. (xvn, i). It is written, I found Israel like grapes in the 
wilderness , / saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree 
at her first season (Hos. ix, 10). R. Judan said: At first 
the fruit of a fig-tree is gathered one by one, then two by- 
two, then three by three, until eventually they are gathered 
in baskets and with shovels. 1 Even so, at the beginning, 
Abraham was one (Ezek. xxxiii, 24); then there were 
Abraham and Isaac; then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
Until eventually, And the children of Israel were fruitful, 
and increased abundantly, and multiplied, etc. (Ex. vn, 1). 
R. Judan said: Just as a fig contains nothing inedible save 
its stalk, and with its removal even this defect ceases, so 
did God say to Abraham: 'There is nought unworthy in 
thee save thy foreskin: remove it and the blemish ceases': 
hence, Walk before me, and be thou whole. 

2. And when Abram was ninety years old 
and nine, etc. It is written, To everything there is a 
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Eccl. 
in, 1). There was a season when circumcision should be 
given to Abraham viz. In the self same day was Abraham 
circumcised (Gen. xvii, 26); there was a season when his 
descendants were to neglect it, viz. in the wilderness, 
as it is written, For all the people that came out were circum- 
cised; but all the people that were born in the wilderness by 
the way as they came forth out of Egypt, had not been 
circumcised (Josh, v, 5). 

Why should he not have circumcised himself at the age 
of forty-eight, when he recognised his Creator ? 2 In order 
not to discourage proselytes. 3 Then why not be circum- 
cised at the age of eighty-five, when [God] spoke with him 
between the pieces? 4 In order that Isaac might issue from 

1 At first single figs here and there ripen ; then little clusters of twos and 
threes; but eventually the whole tree ripens. 2 Cf. supra, xxx, 8. 

3 Who might otherwise think that it was too late in life for them to be 
circumcised. Lit. 'so as not to shut the door in the face of proselytes*. 

4 V. ch. xv. There are several views as to Abraham's age at the time. 

389 



XLVL 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

a holy source. 1 Then let him be circumcised at the age of 
eighty-six, when Ishmael was born? 2 Said R. Simeon b. 
Lakish : [God said] : ' I will set up a cinnamon tree in the 
world: just as the cinnamon tree yields fruit as long as you 
manure and hoe around it, so [shall Abraham be] even 
when his blood runs sluggishly and his passions and desires 
have ceased/ 3 

3. [Abraham] asked: 'If circumcision is so precious, 
why was it not given to Adam? ' Said the Holy One, blessed 
be He, to him: 'Let it suffice thee that I and thou are in 
the world. 4 If thou wilt not undergo circumcision, it is 
enough for My world to have existed until now, and it is 
enough for uncircumcision to have existed until now, and it 
is enough for circumcision to have been forlorn until now/ 5 
Said he: 'Before I circumcised myself, men came and 
joined me [in my new faith]. Will they come and join me 
when I am circumcised?' 6 'Abraham/ said God to him, 
' let it suffice thee that I am thy God ; let it suffice thee that 
I am thy Patron, and not only for thee alone, but it is 
sufficient for My world that I am its God and its Patron/ 7 

R. Nathan said in R. Aha's name, and R. Berekiah said 
in R. Isaac's name: I am El Shaddai (God 
Almighty): It is I who said to My world, 'day' 
(enough)! And had I not said ' dayV to My world, the 

1 I.e. after Abraham's circumcision. a V. XVI, 16. 

3 I.e. Abraham was to be like a cinnamon tree which no matter how old 
can be made to produce fruit ; so was circumcision to renew his virility. 

4 I was not interested in the previous generations, because they did not 
acknowledge and recognise me. This and the following comments are 
based on the phrase, / am El Shaddai (God Almighty). By a play on 
words, Shaddai is derived from day> enough. 

5 Since none practised it. I.e. the world must cease. 

6 I.e. when a difficult operation is necessary. 

7 On this interpretation, which is similar to that of M.K., God assured 
Abraham that even if circumcision should deter would-be converts, 
it did not matter. This may therefore be directed against Paulinism, 
which abolished circumcision in order to facilitate the spread of 
Christianity. Th. Mah. and Y.T. translate differently: (Even) before I 
was circumcised, men fought against me; how much more when I am 
circumcised and so I emphasise the difference between us. Though God's 
reply, ' let it suffice thee that I am thy Patron, * lends colour to this inter- 
pretation, it does not on the whole seem very probable. 

39° 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLVI. 3-4 

heaven would still have been spreading and the earth 
would have gone on expanding to this very day. 

It was taught in the name of R. Eliezer b. Jacob : It is 
I whose Godhead outweighs the world and the fulness 
thereof. 1 Akilas 2 translated it: Sufficient and incomparable. 

4. Walk before me, and be thou whole. R. 
Levi said: This may be illustrated by a noble lady whom 
the king commanded, 'Walk before me/ She walked 
before him and her face went pale, for, thought she, who 
knows but that some defect may have been found in me? 
Said the king to her, 'Thou hast no defect, but that the 
nail of thy little finger is slightly too long; pare it and the 
defect will be gone/ Similarly, God said to Abraham, 
'Thou hast no other defect but this foreskin: remove it and 
the defect will be gone/ Hence, Walk before 
me, and be thou whole. 

And I will make my covenant, etc. (xvn, 2). 
R. Huna said in Bar Kappara's name: Abraham pondered 3 
and drew an inference: l orlah (foreskin) is said here (v. 11), 
and 'orlah occurs in reference to a tree (Lev. xix, 23) 4 : 
just as 'orlah in the case of trees refers to the place where it 
yields fruit, so 'orlah employed in reference to man means 
the member which produces offspring [fruit]. Said R. 
Hanina to him: Had then reasoning by analogy already 
been given to Abraham? Surely not! But [he learned it 
from God's promise]: AndIwillmake my 
covenant between me and thee, and will 
multiply thee exceedingly: hence, with [that 
member through which] I will multiply thee 

EXCEEDINGLY, I WILL MAKE MY COVENANT 
BETWEEN ME AND THEE. 

1 The original is very difficult, and this is Th/s conjecture. * Day ' 
(v.p. 390, n. 4) is accordingly understood in the sense of 'assessment ' — the 
whole world cannot be assessed as having such greatness as Mine. The 
Targum that follows corresponds to these two meanings of ' day \ viz. 
' sufficient ' and ' assessed '. 

2 The author of a translation of the Bible into Greek in the second 
century. He was a proselyte. 3 Lit. ' sat '. 

* Though translated differently, the Hebrew is the same in both cases. 

391 



XLVL 5] MIDRASH RABBAH 

5. R. Ishmael and R. Akiba [reasoned as follows]. 
R. Ishmael said: Abraham was a High Priest, as it says, 
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent : Thou art a priest 
for ever after the manner of Melchizedek (Ps. ex, 4). 1 Again, 
it is said, And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your 
'orlah (Gen. xvn, 11). If he circumcised himself at the 
ear, he would be unfit to offer sacrifices ; if at the mouth, 
he would be unfit to offer; at the heart, he would be unfit 
to offer. 2 Hence, where could he perform circumcision and 
yet be fit to offer ? Nowhere else than at the 'orlah of the 
body [the foreskin]. R. Akiba said: There are four kinds 
of 'orlah. Thus, 'orlah is used in connection with the ear, 
viz. Behold, their ear is 'orlah — E.V. 'dull' (Jer. vi, 10); 
the mouth, Behold, I am 'aral [E.V. 'uncircumcised']* of 
lips (Ex. vi, 30); the heart: For all the house of Israel are 
'arle [E.V. 'uncircumcised'] in the heart (Jer. ix, 25). Now, 
he was ordered, Walk before me, and be thou 
whole. If he circumcised himself at the ear, he would 
not be whole; at the mouth, he would not be 
whole; at the heart, he would not be whole. 
Where could he circumcise himself and yet beWHOLE? 
Nowhere else than at the 'orlah of the body. 

Nakdah said : It is written, And he that is eight days old 
shall be circumcised among you, every male (Gen. xvn, 12). 
Now if he is circumcised at the ear, he cannot hear; at 
the mouth, he cannot speak; at the heart, he cannot think. 4 
Where then could he be circumcised and yet be able to 
think? Only at the 'orlah of the body. R. Tanhuma 
observed : This argument of Nakdah is logical. 

And the uncircumcised male (xvii, 14). Is there 
then an uncircumcised female? The meaning, however, is 
that we must perform circumcision on the member which 
marks the distinction between male and female. 

1 V. Ned. 32b and Lev. R. xxv, 6, where the verse is applied to Abraham. 

2 In each case it would be a blemish, which disqualifies a priest. This is 
probably merely argumentation for its own sake, as appears from the 
reference to the heart. 

3 'Aral has the same root as 'orlah. 

4 The heart was regarded as the seat of the emotions, and ' think ' probably 
has that meaning here. 

392 



GENESIS (lech lecha) [XL VI. 6-8 

6. And Abraham fell on his face, etc. (xvn, 
3). R. Phinehas said in R. Levi's name: Abraham fell on 
his face on two occasions. 1 In consequence, his children 
were deprived of circumcision once in the wilderness and 
once in Egypt 2 : In Egypt, Moses came and circumcised 
them; in the wilderness, Joshua came and circumcised 
them. 3 

7. AS FOR ME, BEHOLD, MY COVENANT IS WITH 

thee, etc. (xvn, 4). It is related that R. Abba, R. 
Berekiah, R. Abba b. Kahana, and R. Samuel b. Ammi, 
when sitting and studying, once raised the question : How 
is notarikon [as a permissible method of exegesis] deduced 
from Scripture? 4 We know it from this: And thou 

SHALT BE AB HAMON (THE FATHER OF A MULTI- 
TUDE — of nations), the resh being lacking. 5 

8. Neither shall thy name any more be 
called abram, but thy name shall be abraham 
(xvn, 5). Bar Kappara said: Whoever calls Abraham 
' Abram', violates a positive commandment. R. Levi said: 
A positive commandment and a negative commandment. 

1 Here, and when he was informed about the birth of Isaac; v. 17. 

2 His falling on his face is regarded as an indication of unwilling assent 
to God's command; but v. n. 3 for a different interpretation. According 
to the Rabbis the Israelites in Egypt were un circumcised until just 
prior to their departure, when circumcision became essential for the 
eating of the passover-offering (v. Ex. xn, 48). 

3 V. Josh, v, 5. The above translation, though fitting in with the text, 
is not very probable, since it assumes Abraham's unwillingness (the second 
falling on the face can certainly not bear this connotation). EJ. : Abraham 
foresaw these two occasions when his descendants would not be 
circumcised, and he fell on his face in prayer that they might not lose it 
altogether. His prayer was answered through Moses and Joshua. 

* Notarikon is a method of exegesis whereby words are broken up and 
each letter or syllable is treated as an abbreviation. In this treatment the 
general form of the word only is considered, while a particular letter or 
so may have to be ignored. Their question was: how do we know that 
even then notarikon is a permissible method of exegesis. Cf . Shab. 105a. 
5 His name was changed from d-dk (Abram) to dttdk (Abraham), 
so that it might read ah (father of) ham (an abbreviation of hamon, 
'multitude'). Hence the i (resh) must be ignored in a case where 
Scripture itself provides the exegesis. 

393 



xlvi. 8-9] midrash rabbah 

Neither shall thy name any more be called 
Abram — that is a negative command; But thy name 
shall be Abraham — that is a positive command. But 
surely the men of the Great Assembly 1 called him Abram, 
as it is written, Thou . . . who didst choose Abram (Neh. 
ix, 7). There it is different, as it means that He chose 
him while he was yet Abram. Then, by analogy, does one 
who calls Sarah 'Sarai' infringe a positive command? 2 
No, for only he [Abraham] was enjoined respecting her. 3 
Again, by analogy, if one calls Israel, 'Jacob/ does one 
infringe a positive command? [No, for] it was taught: 
It was not intended that the name Jacob should disappear, 
but that ' Israel ' should be his principal name, while ' Jacob ' 
should be a secondary one. R. Zebida interpreted in R. 
Aha's name : At all events, Thy name is Jacob, save that, But 
Israel [too] shall be thy name (Gen. xxxv, 10) : ' Jacob ' will be 
the principal name, while ' Israel ' will be an additional one. 

9. And I will give unto thee, and to thy 
seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, 
etc. (xvii, 8). R. Judan gave five interpretations of this. R. 
Judan said: God said: (i) 'If thy children accept My 
Divinity, I will be their God and Patron ; if not, I will not 
be their God and Patron, (ii) Tf thy children enter the 
Promised Land, they accept My Divinity ; if not, they do 
not accept My Divinity, (iii) If they accept circumcision, 
they accept My Divinity ; if not, they do not accept My 
Divinity, (iv) If thy children accept circumcision, they 
will enter the Promised Land; if not, they will not enter 
the Promised Land/ 4 R. Berekiah and R. IJelbo in the 
name of R. Abin b. R. Jose said: It is written, And this is 
the cause (dabar) why Joshua did circumcise (Josh, v, 4): 
Joshua spoke a word {dabar) to them, and circumcised 
them. 5 'What think you/ said he upbraiding them, 'that 

1 A body instituted by Ezra as the supreme ecclesiastical executive council. 
The authorship of Nehemiah is here apparently ascribed to it. Y. B.B. i$a. 
2 Surely not! 3 V. Gen. xvn, 15 : Thou shalt not call her name Sarai. 
* Only four are given here. 
5 Translating: And by this word did Joshua circumcise them. 

394 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLVI. 9-IO 

you will enter the Land uncircumcised?' Thus did the 
Holy One, blessed be He, say to Abraham, 'And I 

WILL GIVE UNTO THEE, AND TO THY SEED AFTER 

thee, etc., providing that you fulfil the condition, 
And as for thee, thou shalt keep. My 
covenant* (xvii, 9). 

And as for thee, thou shalt keep My 
covenant. R. Huna in Rab's name and R. Johanan 
each commented. Rab said: And as for thee means 
one like thee [must perform the actual circumcision]; 
hence it follows that only he who is himself circumcised 
may perform circumcision. R. Johanan said: He must 
needs be circumcised — himmol yimmol (ih. 13) teaches that 
the circumciser must himself be circumcised. 1 It was 
taught: An uncircumcised Israelite [Jew] may not cir- 
cumcise, and how much more so an uncircumcised Gentile ! 

10. And ye shall be circumcised (u-nemal- 
tem) in the flesh of your foreskin (xvii, ii). 
It [the prepuce] is like a sore (numi) hanging from the 
body 2 . Once Monabaz 3 and Izates, 4 the sons of King 
Ptolemy, 5 were sitting and reading the book of Genesis. 
When they came to the verse, And ye shall be 
circumcised, one turned his face to the wall and com- 
menced to weep, and the other turned his face to the wall 
and commenced to weep. Then each went and had himself 
circumcised. 6 Some time later they were sitting and reading 
the Book of Genesis; and when they came to the verse, 
And ye shall be circumcised, one said to the 
other, 'Woe to thee, my brother!' to which he replied, 

1 This follows from the doubling of the verb. 

2 The grammatical form, unemaltem, is unusual, and so by a play on 
words it is read: numi (a sore) maltem (shall ye circumcise). 

3 The name of a king of Adiabene, also of one of his sons, who embraced 
Judaism ; the second one is referred to here. V. Jos. Ant . xx, 2, § 1 seq. 

* A prince of Adiabene, brother of the second Monabaz. 

6 The mention of King Ptolemy is surprising, since they were the sons of 

King Monabaz. He is possibly mentioned in error, for he too is counted 

elsewhere as one of the heathen kings who embraced Judaism. 

6 Without his brother's knowledge. 

395 



XL VI. IO-I2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

'Woe to thee, my brother, but not to me.' Thus they 
revealed the matter to each other. When their mother 
learned about it she went and told their father: 'A sore 
has broken out on our sons' flesh and the physician has 
ordered circumcision/ 'Then let them be circumcised/ 
said he. How did the Holy One, blessed be He, requite 
them? Said R. Phinehas: When he went out to battle a 
band of enemies attacked him, and an angel descended and 
rescued him. 1 

11. And he that is eight days old shall be 
circumcised . . . He that is born in the 

HOUSE OR BOUGHT WITH MONEY (XVII, 12). It Was 

taught: If a man buys the unborn child of a non- Jewish 
bondmaid belonging to a Gentile — R. Johanan said: 
He must be circumcised on the eighth day [after birth]. 
It was likewise taught, R. Hama b. R. Jose said : He must 
be circumcised on the eighth day, while Samuel taught 
the same. 2 Samuel's statement is based on the verse: For 
a son, or for a daughter (Lev. xii, 6) ; ' For a son ' means in 
all cases, and 'For a daughter' means in all cases. 3 

12. HE SHALL SURELY BE CIRCUMCISED — HIMMOL 

yimmol (xvn, 13). This intimates circumcision, perH'ahf 
and removal of the shreds [of the corona]. 5 He shall 
surely be circumcised: this teaches that the circum- 
ciser must himself be circumcised. He shall surely 
be circumcised : this signifies the inclusion of one 
who is born circumcised. 

It was taught, R. Simeon b. Eleazar said : Beth Shammai 

1 V. Jos. ad loc. iv. 

2 V. Shab. 135a and 6, with which this does not agree. 

s I.e. whatever the circumstances in which the son is born, and whatever 

the status of his mother (the * daughter '), circumcision must be on the 

eighth day. The verse actually treats of the mother's period of unclean- 

ness, not of circumcision at all. Mah. suggests that it may have been 

regarded as superfluous, since its scope is covered by the preceding verses 

(q.v.), and therefore it was applied to circumcision. 4 The uncovering 

of the corona by splitting the membrane and pulling it down. 

5 This and the following statements are based on the emphasis and 

extension implied by the doubling of the verb, ' himmol yimmol.' 

396 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLVL I2-I3 

and Beth Hillel agree that when one is born circumcised, 
the blood of the covenant must be made to flow from him, 1 
because it is a suppressed foreskin. They disagree only 
about a man who became a proselyte when already circum- 
cised. Beth Shammai maintain : The blood of the covenant 
must be made to flow from him, while Beth Hillel rule: 
It is unnecessary. R. Eleazar the son of R. Eleazar Hakappar 
said : Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel agree that in both of 
these cases the blood of the covenant must be made to 
flow. They disagree about one who was born circumcised, 
and the eighth day after whose birth 2 fell on the Sabbath. 
Beth Shammai then maintain : The blood of the covenant 
must flow 3 ; while Beth Hillel rule: It is unnecessary. 4 
R. Isaac b. Nahman said in R. Hoshaya's name: The 
halachah is as stated by the disciple. 5 

13. AND THE UNCIRCUMCISED MALE, etc. (XVII, 

14). R. Haggai said in R. Isaac's name, and R. Berekiah 
said in R. Isaac's name: Is there then an uncircumcised 
female? The meaning, however, is that we must perform 
circumcision on the member which marks the distinction 
between male and female. 6 

He hath broken my covenant. This refers to 
one whose circumcision is disguised. 7 It was taught: He 
whose circumcision is disguised must re-circumcise. R. 
Judah said: He does not re- circumcise, because it is a 
suppressed foreskin. 8 Said they to R. Judah: Yet there 



1 I.e. a minor form of circumcision is necessary. 

2 When circumcision must be performed; v. Lev. xu, 3. 

3 On the eighth day, the Sabbath. 

4 Hence it must be postponed until after the Sabbath. 

5 Sc. R. Eleazar the son of R. Eleazar Hakappar. V. Yeb. 710; Shab. 
ad loc. 6 Cf. supra, 5. 

7 Lit. 'drawn' — the skin over the prepuce. Under the Hellenising 
influence of the pre-Maccabean period, when Greek games were intro- 
duced into Judea, in which the competitors appeared naked, many 
underwent operations (epiplasm) to hide the fact that they were 
circumcised. 

8 In Yeb. yza the reading is : because it endangers his life. On the present 
reading the meaning is that it is indeed circumcised, notwithstanding 
that it is hidden. 

397 



XLVI. 13] MIDRASH RABBAH 

were many in the days of the son of Kosiba 1 who re- 
circumcised and yet gave birth to children after that. 2 
Hence it is written, He shall surely be circum- 
cise d — even four or five times : He hath broken 
My covenant — viz. he whose circumcision is dis- 
guised. 

1 The leader of the ill-starred revolt against Hadrian, which ended in the 
crushing defeat of Bithar in 135 C.E. 

2 They survived it. Th/s text probably requires emendation. On the 
historical fact v. Graetz, Gesckichte (fourth edition), iv, 73 . 



398 



[XLVII. i 
Chapter XLVII (LECH LECHA) 
i. And God said unto Abraham: As for Sarai 

THY WIFE, THOU SHALT NOT CALL HER NAME 

Sarai, but Sarah [i.e. princess] shall her 
name be (xvn, 1 5). It is written, A virtuous woman is a 
crown to her husband (Prov. xn, 4). R. Aha said: Her 
husband was crowned through her, but she was not 
crowned through her husband. 1 The Rabbis said: She was 
her husband's ruler. Usually, the husband gives orders, 
whereas here we read, In all that Sarah saith unto thee, 
hearken unto her voice (Gen. xxi, 12). 

Thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but 
Sarah shall her name be. R. Joshua b. Karhah 
said: The yod which the Lord took from Sarai soared 
aloft before God and protested : * Sovereign of the Universe ! 
Because I am the smallest of all letters, 2 Thou hast with- 
drawn me from the name of that righteous woman ! ' Said 
the Holy One, blessed be He, to it: 'Hitherto thou wast 
in a woman's name and the last of its letters ; now I will set 
thee in a man's name and at the beginning of its letters,' 
as it says, And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua 
(Num. xiii, 16). 3 R. Mana said: Formerly she was a 

1 He refers this verse to Sarah. Her original name was "h»; now the 
numerical value of •> is io, while that of n is 5. Thus God took the •» 
from her name and split it up into two n s, one for her name, which 
became m» (Sarah), and one to be added to Abraham's name, which 
was thus changed from cross to nmax. Hence Abraham was crowned 
(his name was changed to denote his greatness ; v. xvn, 5) through Sarah, 
but Sarah was not crowned through him. He deduces this from the 
words Thy wife, which are apparently superfluous : hence he 
interprets : T h y w i f e — who brings thee honour. The passage might 
also mean quite simply that Abraham derived honour and glory from 
her, as we find in connection with Pharaoh (v. xn, 16), but she did not 
derive honour from him. Y.M. explains : was then her husband (Abraham) 
crowned through her while she was not crowned through him — surely 
each cast glory upon the other? To which the Rabbis answer that the 
meaning here is that she was to be a mistress (crown, sovereign) to him, 
etc. This seems the most plausible interpretation, but it would probably 
require a slight emendation of the text. 
a In actual writing it is almost a mere dot 0). 
8 Changing yann into mn\ 

399 



XLVIL 1-3] MIDRASH RABBAH 

princess [Sarai] to her own people only, whereas now she 
is a princess [Sarah] to all mankind. 1 

2. AND I WILL BLESS HER, AND MOREOVER I WILL 
GIVE THEE A SON FROM HER; YEA, I WILL BLESS 

her, etc. (xvn, 16). R. Judah said: This means, And 
I will bless her, that she should give thee a son; 
Yea, I will bless her in respect of milk. Said R. 
Nehemiah to him: Had she then already been informed 
about her milk? 2 This teaches, however, that God restored 
to her her youth. R. Abbahu explained it thus in the name 
of R. Jose b. R. IJanina: I will inspire all peoples with 
awe of her, so that they should not call her, 'barren 
woman/ R. Judan said in the name of Resh Lakish: She 
lacked an ovary, but the Lord fashioned an ovary for her. 

And kings of peoples shall be of her. R. 
IJama b. R. Hanina said : Abraham drew a deduction from 
this and took back Keturah. 3 

3. Then Abraham fell upon his face (xvii, 
17). R. Phinehas said in R. Levi's name: On two occasions 
did Abraham fall on his face. In consequence, his children 
were deprived of circumcision, once in the wilderness and 
once in Egypt. In Egypt, Moses came and circumcised 
them; in the wilderness, Joshua came and circumcised 
them. 4 

1 He holds that both Sarai and Sarah denote ' princess ', but that the 
latter is more comprehensive. 

2 The passage is rather difficult. It apparently means that there was no 
need to inform her that she would be able to suckle her child, seeing 
that he was not even conceived yet. Another interpretation is this: 
R. Judah said that God informed her that He would bless her with 
sufficient milk to suckle other children too (v. infra, liii, 9), to which 
R. Nehemiah objected that she had so far not even been promised 
sufficient for her own child. V. infra, Lii, 5, fromwhich the present passage 
might hi error have come here, 

* V. xxv, 1. According to the Rabbis (v. infra, lxi, 4) Keturah was Hagar. 
Abraham deduced that FROMHERhe would have kings of peoples, which 
implied that he was also to beget children from another wife who would 
not be kings of peoples. This implied prophecy could not refer to Ishmael, 
for he was already born. Rash, explains it differently. 
4 V. supra, xlvi, 6. 

400 



genesis (lech lecha) [xl vii. 3-5 

And said in his heart: Shall a child be 
born unto him that is a hundred years old, 
etc. R. Judan interpreted: shall a child be born 

UNTO HIM THAT IS A HUNDRED YEARS OLD? 

Why [this astonishment]? For, [said he], Shall 
Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? A man 
does not grow aged, but a woman does. 1 

When is a woman to be regarded as aged? Said R. Simeon 
b. Lakish: When she is called ' Mother So-and-So ' and 
does not mind. 

4. And Abraham said unto God: Oh that 
Ishmael might live before thee! (xvii, 18). R. 
Judah said in R. Judan's name: Imagine a king who wished 
to increase his friend's allowance. ' I intend to double 
your allowance/ the king informed him. ' Do not fill me 
with a false hope/ he rejoined; ' pray only that you do 
not withhold my present allowance! ' Similarly Abraham 
said, Oh that Ishmael might live before 

THEE. 2 

5. And God said: Nay, but Sarah thy wife 
shall bear thee a son . . . and as for ishmael, 
I have heard thee, etc. (xvii, 19 f.). R. Johanan 
said in the name of R. Joshua b. Hananiah: Here the son of 
the bondmaid might learn [that he would be blessed] 
from the son of the mistress. For, Behold, I 
have blessed him refers to Isaac; And will make 
him fruitful refers to Isaac; And will multiply 
him refers to Isaac. And as for Ishmael, I 
have already informed thee 3 [about his blessing] through 
an angel. 4 R. Abba b. Kahana said in R. Biryai's name: 

1 There was nothing improbable in his begetting children, and he was 
surprised only because of Sarah's age. 

2 And I shall not hope for another son. 

8 Reading shimatika instead of shem'atika (E.V. 'I have heard 
thee '). 

4 Who spoke to Hagar, xvi, 10. Now that his name was coupled with 
Isaac's, Ishmael could be sure that his blessing too would be fulfilled; 
or (as *EJ.) that even his blessing would be increased. 

401 Dd 



XLVII. 5-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Here the son of the mistress might learn from the son of the 
bondmaid: Behold, I have blessed him refers to 
Ishmael; And will make him fruitful refers 
to Ishmael; And will multiply him refers to 
Ishmael. How much the more then Will I estab- 
lish My covenant with Isaac. R. Isaac said: It 
is written, All these are the twelve tribes (shibte) of Israel 
(Gen. xlix, 28) — these were the descendants of the 
mistress [Sarah], Yet did not Ishmael too produce twelve 
[princes] P 1 In truth those were nesi'im (princes) in the same 
sense as you read, As nesi'im [E.V. 'vapours'] and wind, etc. 
(Prov. xxv, 14). 2 But these were matoth (tribes) as you read, 
Sworn are the matoth [E.V. 'rods'] of the word. Selah (Hab. 
in, 9). 3 

But My covenant will I establish with 
Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at 
this set time (la-mo'ed) in the next year (xvii, 
21). R. Huna said in R. Idi's name: That year was inter- 
calated. 4 

6. And he left off talking with him. It was 
taught : He who departs from his neighbour, whether he is 
greater or smaller than he, must ask leave of him. From 
whom do we learn it? From Abraham. On one occasion 
Abraham was speaking to God, when the ministering angels 
came to speak to him. Said he to them, ' Let us take leave 
of the Shechinahy which is greater than you, and then I 
will speak with you/ When he had spoken with God all 
that he needed, he said to Him, ' Sovereign of the Universe ! 

1 As the present verse continues : Twelve princes (nesi'im) 
shall he beget. Wherein then lay Sarah's superiority? 

2 Their glory would be transient, and they would soon pass away. 

3 Shebet and mateh are synonyms, both meaning tribes and both meaning 
rods. Thus these tribes would endure like rods that are planted. 

4 He holds that these tidings were announced at the time of the Feast 
of Tabernacles (i5th-22nd of Tishri), while la-mo ed means at the 
Festival, sc. Passover, in Nisan. Since this gives an interval of only six 
months, we must assume that the year was prolonged by the inter- 
calation of a month (Adar), which then gives seven months. The Jewish 
year is lunar, and consists of about 354 days. To make up to the 365 days 
of the solar year a month was intercalated in certain years. 

402 



GENESIS (lech lecha) [XL VII. 6-8 

I have need to speak [with the angels]/ 'Then let Me take 
leave [of thee] in peace,' replied He. Thus it is written, 
And God went up from Abraham. 1 

Resh Lakish said: The Patriarchs are [God's] Heavenly 
Chariot. Thus it is written, And God went up 
from upon Abraham; again, And God went up from 
upon him (Gen. xxxv, 13); further, And, behold, the Lord 
stood upon him (ib. xxviii, 13). 2 

7. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and 
all that were born in his house (xvii, 23). r. 
Aibu said: When Abraham circumcised those that were 
born in his house, he set up a hillock of foreskins ; the sun 
shone upon them and they putrefied, and their odour 
ascended to the Lord like sweet incense. God then said: 
'When My children lapse into sinful ways, I will remember 
that odour in their favour and be filled with compassion 
for them.' 

8. And Abraham was ninety years old and 
nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh 
of his foreskin, and ishmael his son was 
thirteen years old, when he was circumcised 
in (eth) the flesh of his foreskin (xvii, 24 f.). 
Here you say, besar 'orlatho, while in the second 
verse you say, eth besar 'orlatho? 3 The reason 
is this: Besar 'orlatho is written in the case of 
Abraham, because he had been made flabby through a 
woman; but since Ishmael had not been made flabby 
through a woman, eth besar 'orlatho is written. 4 

1 Understanding it as though God first asked leave. The passage of course 
is a lesson in manners. 

8 In these verses ty is translated literally * upon ', as though, as it were, 
God rode upon them. The idea is that through the Patriarchs the know- 
ledge of God was diffused among all peoples. 

* E.V. 'The flesh of his foreskin' ; but in the second verse referring to 
Ishmael it is preceded by eth, the sign of the accusative, and in Rabbinic 
exegesis denoting an extension. 

4 His flesh was firmer, and a severer operation was necessary, and that 
is indicated by the extending particle eth. 

403 



XL VII. 9-10] MIDRASH RABBAH 

9. In the self same day was Abraham cir- 
cumcised (xvii, 26). R. Berekiah said: It is written, / 
have not spoken in secret (Isa. xlv, 19). Thus the Holy One, 
blessed be He, said: 'Had Abraham been circumcised at 
night, all his contemporaries might have said: "We did 
not know of it, but had we known of it we would not have 
let him be circumcised." Hence he was circumcised 
in the self same DAY, [with the challenge], "Let 
him who objects speak outl"' 1 

Was Abraham circumcised. R. Abba said: He 
felt the smart and suffered pain, so that the Lord might 
double his reward. R. Levi said : It does not say, ' Abraham 
circumcised himself/ but was Abraham circum- 
cised: this intimates that he examined himself and 
found that he was [already] circumcised. R. Berekiah 
observed: It was at that time that R. Abba b. Kahana 
humiliated R. Levi, saying to him : * It is a lie and a false- 
hood! 2 He felt the smart and suffered pain, 3 so that the 
Lord might double his reward/ 

10. And all the men of his house, those 
born in the house, and those bought with 
money of a foreigner, were circumcised with 
him (xvii, 27). It was taught 4 : You may attend a non- 
Jewish fair on the Intermediate Days of a Festival 5 to 
buy houses, fields, vineyards, and male and female slaves 
from them. R. Ammi said in the name of R. Simeon b. 
Lakish: Not only circumcised, but even uncircumcised 
slaves, because you thereby bring them under the wings of 
the Shechindh. R. Joshua b. Levi asked Resh Lakish: Is it 
permitted to buy uncircumcised [heathen] slaves from a 
Gentile? About when do you ask me, he replied, about a 

1 Cf. supra, xxxii, 8. 

2 To suggest that Abraham did not perform circumcision. Radal suggests: 
would you teach a lie and a falsehood? 

8 The passive indicating that he was made to feel his circumcision. 

4 'A.Z. 13a, b. 

5 These possess a semi-sacred character, and only work which cannot 
be postponed is permitted on them. Some MSS. omit: on the Inter- 
mediate Days of a Festival. 

404 



GENESIS (LECH LECHA) [XLVIL IO 

festival? It was taught: This is permitted even on the 
Sabbath. 1 Hezekiah taught: [Thou may est build bulwarks 
against the city that maketh war with thee,] until it fall (Deut. 
xx, 20) : even on the Sabbath, for thus we find that Jericho 
was indeed reduced on the Sabbath. 2 

There were three annual fairs : the fair of Gaza, the fair 
of Acco, and the fair of Batnan [Batanea], 3 and none 
of them is so clearly [of an idolatrous character] as the 
fair of Batnan. 4 

Abraham said: 'Before I became circumcised, travellers 
used to visit me ; now that I am circumcised, perhaps they 
will no longer visit me?' Said the Holy One, blessed be He, 
to him: 'Before thou wast circumcised, uncircumcised 
mortals visited thee; now I in My glory will appear to 
thee/ Hence it is written, And the Lord appeared unto him 
(Gen. xvin, 1). 

1 For the reason stated. He would not actilally hand him the money 
then. 

2 Cf. Num. R. ii, 9. 

3 Jast. : a town and district east of the Jordan. 

4 Y.T. reverses the meaning: the fair of Batanea was the least idolatrous; 
but the parallel passage in Jer. 'A. Z. ad loc. proves the correctness of 
the translation adopted. Y.M.: only these three fairs may be visited 
on the Intermediate Days, as slaves are certain to be found there who 
may thus be initiated in Judaism. But slaves were not always procurable 
at other fairs, and therefore the Intermediate Days may not be desecrated. 



4°s 



XLVIII. 1-3] 

Chapter XLVIII 

VAYERA 

1. And the Lord appeared unto him (xviii, i). 
It is written, Thou hast also given me Thy shield of salvation, 
and Thy right hand hath holden me up, and Thy con- 
descension hath made me great (Ps. xvm, 36). ' Thou hast 
also given me Thy shield of salvation ' alludes to Abraham 1 ; 
'And Thy right hand hath holden me up 3 — in the fiery 
furnace, in famine, and in [my battle with] the kings; 
' And Thy condescension hath made me great': with what 
condescension did the Lord make Abraham great ? In that 
he sat while the Shechinah stood ; thus it is written, And 
the Lord appeared unto him ... as he sat. 2 

2. And when after my skin this is destroyed (nikkefu), 
then through my flesh shall I see God (Job xix, 26). Abraham 
said: After I circumcised myself, 3 many proselytes came 
to attach themselves to this sign [of the covenant]. 4 ' Then 
through my flesh shall I see God 7 : had I not done so, why 
should God have revealed Himself to me? 5 Therefore, 
And the Lord appeared unto him. 

3. R. Issi commenced his discourse thus : If I did despise 
the cause of my manservant, or of my maidservant, when 
they contended with me — what then shall I do when God riseth 
up ? and when He remembereth, what shall I answer Him 
(ib. xxxi, 13)? R. Issi's wife quarrelled with her maid- 
servant, whereupon he gave her [his wife] the lie 6 in her 
presence. 'Why do you give me the lie before my own 
servant?* she complained. He replied: 'Did not Job say, 

1 Radal and Rash. : as it is written, / am thy shield (Gen. xv, 1). 

* God did not permit him to rise on account of his age and the weakness 
caused by circumcision. 8 Translating : and after I removed my foreskin. 

* Deriving tuk^efu from hikkif, to surround, i.e. proselytes flocked, 
surrounding him, as it were. 

5 Hence through circumcision performed on my flesh shall I see God. 

* He denied that his wife was in the right. 

406 



GENESIS (vayera) [XLVIII. 3-6 

" If I did despise the cause of my manservant . . . what then 
shall I do when God riseth up? and when He remembereth, 
what shall I answer Him?"* Another interpretation: 'If I 
did despise the cause of my manservant ' alludes to Abraham, 
as it says, And Abraham took Ishmael his son . . . and circum- 
cised them (Gen. xvn, 23). 1 Said he: 'Had I not done so, 
why should God have revealed Himself to me?' 2 Con- 
sequently, And the Lord appeared unto him, etc. 

4. R. Isaac commenced thus: An altar of earth thou 
shalt make unto Me . . . [then] I will come unto thee and bless 
thee (Ex. xx, 21). Said R. Isaac: If I reveal myself to bless 
him who built an altar in My name, how much the more 
to Abraham who circumcised himself for My sake! Con- 
sequently, And the Lord appeared unto him, etc. 

5. R. Levi commenced: And [take] an ox and a ram 
for peace-offerings . . . for to-day the Lord appeareih unto 
you (Lev. ix, 4). [God] said: 'If I reveal Myself to and 
bless him who sacrificed an ox and a ram for My sake, how 
much the more to Abraham, who circumcised himself for 
My sake! 1 Consequently, And the Lord appeared 
unto him, etc. 

6. It is written, The sinners in Zion are afraid (Isa. 
xxxiii, 14). R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: This may be 
illustrated by two children who ran away from school: 
when one is punished the other trembles. 3 R. Jonathan 
said: Whenever hanufah occurs in Scripture, it refers to 
heresy, 4 and the locus classicus for all cases is the verse, 
' The sinners in Zion are afraid, trembling hath seized the 
ungodly (ha-hanefim). R. Judah b. R. Simon said: This 
may be illustrated by a robber chief who revolted against 

x He did not despise the rights of his servants, but circumcised them too, 
this being a 'right* (privilege). 2 Translating: If I did despise, etc., 
what could I do that God should honour me by standing before me? 
3 Similarly, when God punishes the heathens, the sinners in Zion are 
afraid. 4 Hanufah is generally translated hypocrisy, but it also means 
godlessness, faithlessness. 

407 



XLVIII. 6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the king, and the king announced, ' I will give preferment 
to any man who captures him/ A man arose and caught 
him, and the king ordered them both to be guarded until 
morning. One was filled with anxiety, thinking what 
preferment the king would give him. The other was filled 
with anxiety, thinking what punishment the king would 
pronounce upon him. Thus, in the Messianic future Israel 
shall fear, viz. And they shall come in fear unto the Lord and 
to His goodness (Hos. in, 5); and the Gentiles will fear: 
' The sinners in Zion are afraid.' R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said: Why are they called Everlasting burnings (Isa. loc. 
tit.) ? Because if they were given free passage they would 
burn up the whole world. 

He that walketh righteously (ib. 15) alludes to Abraham, 
as it is written, To the end that he [sc. Abraham] may 
command his children . . , that they may keep the way of the 
Lord to do righteousness and justice (Gen. xvni, 19). And 
speaketh uprightly (Isa. loc. cit.), as it is written, The 
upright ones do love thee (S.S. 1, 4). 1 He that despiseth the 
gain of oppressions (ib.), as it says, / will not take a thread or 
a shoe latchet (Gen. xiv, 23). That shaketh his hands from 
holding of bribes (Isa. loc. cit.). I have lifted up my hand 
unto the Lord, God Most High (Gen. xiv, 22). He shall 
dwell on high (Isa. xxxm, 16): R. Judah b. R. Simon and 
R. Hanin in R. Johanan's name said: He lifted him [sc. 
Abraham] up above the vault of heaven; hence He said 
to him, Look now (habbet) at heaven (Gen. xv, 5): 'habbet' 
is applicable only when one looks downward from above. 2 
His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks (Isa. 
loc. cit.): this alludes to the clouds of Glory. 3 His bread 
shall be given (ib.) — And I will fetch a morsel of bread (Gen. 
xvni, 4). — His waters shall be sure (Isa. loc. cit.). — Let now a 
little water be fetched (Gen. loc. cit.). Thine eyes shall see 
the King in his beauty (Isa. xxxm, 17). — And the 
Lord appeared unto him. 



1 E.V* "Sincerely do they love thee' . In S.S.R. ad loc. this verse is applied 

to the Patriarchs. a Cf. supra, xliv, 12. 

8 Which frequented Abraham's home; cf. infra, lx, 16. 



408 



GENESIS (vayera) [XLVIII. 7-8 

7. AS HE SAT (YOSHEB) IN THE TENT DOOR IN 

THE heat of the day. R. Berekiah said in R. Levi's 
name: This is written yashah (he sat) 1 : he wished to rise, 
but God said to him: 'Sit, and thou art a token to thy 
children: as thou sittest while the Shechinah is standing, 
so will thy children sit and the Shechinah stand/ as it says, 
God standeth (nizzab) in the congregation of God (Ps. 
lxxxii, i). 2 R. Haggai said in the name of R. Isaac: Not 
'omed (standing) is written here but 'nizzab' (stationed at 
his post), which means ready, as you read, And thou shalt 
be stationed (nizzabta) upon the rock (Ex. xxxin, 21). 3 R. 
Samuel b. R. Hiyya and R. Judan in R. Hanina's name 
said : Every time that Israel praise the Holy One, blessed 
be He, He causes His Shechinah to rest upon them. What 
is the proof? Yet Thou art holy, O Thou that art enthroned 
upon the praises of Israel (Ps. xxii, 4).* 

8. Inthetentdoor. [God said to him]: 'Thou 
hast opened a good door for travellers; thou hast opened 
a good door to proselytes, for if not for thee I had not 
created heaven and earth,' as it says, He spreadeth them out 
as a tent to dwell in (Isa. XL, 22). 5 Again, but for thee I had 
not created the orb of the sun, as it says, In them hath He 
set a tent for the sun (Ps. xix, 5). But for thee I had not 
created the moon, as it says, Behold, even for the moon He 
doth not set a tent — ya'ahil (Job xxv, 5). 6 

R. Levi said : In the Hereafter Abraham will sit at the 
entrance to Gehenna, and permit no circumcised Israelite 
to descend therein. What then will he do to those who 
have sinned very much ? He will remove the foreskin from 
babes who died before circumcision and set it upon them 

1 I.e. it is written defectively 3bt», instead of nttfr, and accordingly it can 
be punctuated a»\ 

2 Cur. edd. add.: That is when Israel enter their synagogues and houses 
of study and recite the shema', and thus they sit in My honour. 

3 Ready — to see God's glory. E.V. 'And thou shalt stand'. God stands 
ready in the congregation of God — to answer Israel's prayers. 

* Cf. S.S.R. 1, 9, § 2, for the whole passage. 

6 The statement is suggested by the use of the word tent in both verses. 
8 This derives ya'ahil from ohel, a tent. E.V. 'Behold, even the moon hath 
no brightness'. Mah. retains E.V. 

409 



XLVIIL 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

[the sinners], and then let them descend into Gehenna; 
hence it is written, He hath sent forth his hands to those that 
were whole 1 ; he hath profaned his covenant. 2 In the 
heat of the day: [this is an allusion to the time] 
when that day will come of which it is written, For, behold, 
the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace (Mai. in, 19). 3 

In the heat of the day. R. Ishmael taught: And 
as the sun waxed hot, it melted (Ex. xvi, 21) means at four 
hours. 4 You say, at four hours; yet perhaps that is not so, 
and it means at six hours ? When it says, In the 
heat of the day, that must refer to six hours. Yet 
perhaps it is the reverse? At four hours it is cool in the 
shade and hot in the sun, whereas at six hours both the 
sun and the shade are equally hot. 5 R. Tanhuma said: 
[In the heat of the day] means when people can- 
not find shade beneath it [the sun]. 6 

R. Jannai said: The Holy One, blessed be He, made a 
hole in Gehenna, making the whole world intolerably 
hot to its inhabitants for a short while. ' Shall the righteous/ 
He said, 'be in pain while the whole world is at ease!' 
[That is the implication of] In the heat of the day. 7 
From this it follows that heat is beneficial to a wound. 

9. He [Abraham] complained : ' Before I was circumcised 
travellers used to visit me; now that I am circumcised, 
perhaps they will no longer visit me ? ' Said the Holy One, 
blessed be He, to him: 'Hitherto uncircumcised mortals 
visited thee ; but now I and My retinue will appear to thee. ' 
Thus it is written, And he lifted up his eyes and 
looked (xviii, 2) — he saw the Shechinah and saw the 
angels. 

1 Sc. the circumcised wicked. E.V. 'Against them that were at peace 
with him 1 . 2 I.e. put an uncircumcised foreskin upon the wicked. 

3 This interpretation is presumably the basis of R. Levi's teaching here. 

4 About 10 a.m. 

5 I n the heat of the day implies that it was hot everywhere ; 
that condition is fulfilled at noon. But And as the sun waxed hot indicates 
that it was hot only in the sun, but not in the shade. 

6 I.e. at midday or just after. 

7 Rashi in the Bible ad loc gives a different reason : so that travellers might 
pause to rest, and not be a burden on Abraham's hospitality. 

410 



genesis (vayera) [XLVIII. 9-10 

R. IJanina said : The names of the months came up with 
us from Babylon. R. Simeon b. Lakish said : Also the names 
of the angels, Michael, Rafael, and Gabriel. R. Levi said: 
One appeared to him in the guise of a Saracen, the second 
in the guise of a Nabatean, and the third in the guise of an 
Arab. 1 Said he [Abraham]: 'If I see that the Shechinah 
waits for them, I will know that they are worthy ; and if I 
see that they pay respect to each other, I will know that 
they are distinguished/ And when he did see them pay 
respect to each other, he knew that they were distinguished. 

R. Abbahu said: The tent of the Patriarch Abraham 
opened at both sides. R. Judan said : It was like a double- 
gated passage. 2 Said he: 'If I see them turn aside, I will 
know that they are coming to me.' When he saw them turn 
aside, immediately He ran to meet them. 

10. And said: My Lord, if now I have found 
favour in Thy sight (xviii, 3). R. Hiyya taught : 
He said this to the greatest of them, viz. Michael. Let 

NOW A LITTLE WATER BE FETCHED (XVIII, 4). God 

said to Abraham, 'Thou hast said, Let now a little 
water be fetched. I swear that I will repay thy 
children (in the wilderness, in inhabited country [the 
Land — Eretz Israel], and in the Messianic future)/ 3 Thus 
it is written, Then sang Israel this song! Spring up, O well — 
sing ye unto it (Num. xxi, 7) — that was in the wilderness. 
Where do we find it in the Land [sc. Eretz Israel] ? A land 
of brooks of water (Deut. viii, 7). And in the Messianic 
future? And it shall come to pass in that day, that living 
waters shall go out from Jerusalem (Zech. xiv, 8). 'Thou 
hast said: And wash your feet: I swear to thee 
that I will repay thy children.' Then washed I thee in water 
(Ezek. xvi, 9) refers to the wilderness. In the Land? 4 
Wash you, make you clean (Isa. 1, 16). In the Messianic 

1 Commentaries in cur. edd. translate: a baker, a master mariner, and 
an Arab (probably a Bedouin). 

2 The rendering is conjectural. 

3 Bracketed passage added from cur. edd. 

4 Sc. Palestine; or perhaps here: in a civilised country. 

411 



XLVIII. lO-Il] MIDRASH RABBAH 

future ? When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of 
the daughters of Zion (ib. iv, 4). 'Thou hast said: And 

RECLINE YOURSELVES UNDER THE TREE: by thy life, 

I will repay thy children/ He spread a cloud for a screen 
(Ps. cv, 39) — that was in the wilderness. In the Land? 
Ye shall dwell in booths seven days (Lev. xxiri, 42). In the 
Messianic future ? And there shall be a pavilion for a shadow 
in the day-time from the heat (Isa. iv, 6). 'Thou didst say, 

AND I WILL FETCH A MORSEL OF BREAD (XVIII, 5): 

I swear that I will repay thy children/ Thus: Behold, I will 
cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Ex. xvi, 4) — that is 
in the wilderness. In the Land ? A land of wheat and barley, 
etc. (Deut. vin, 8). In the Messianic future? He will be as 
a rich cornfield in the land (Ps. lxxii, 16). 'Again, thou didst 
run after the herd: I swear that I will repay thy children/ 
Thus : And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and 
brought across quails from the sea (Num. XI, 27), * that is 
in the wilderness. In the Land? Now the children of Reuben 
and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle 
{ib. xxxii, i). 2 In the Messianic future? And it shall come 
to pass in that day, that a man shall rear a young cow, and 
two sheep (Isa. vn, 21). As a reward for And he 
stood by them (xvin, 8), And the Lord went before 
them (Ex. xiii, 21) — there you have the wilderness. In the 
Land ? God standeth in the congregation of God (Ps. lxxxii, 
1). In the Messianic future? The breaker is gone up, before 
them * . . and the Lord at the head of them (Mic. 11, 13). 

II. AND I WILL FETCH A MORSEL OF BREAD, AND 

stay ye your heart (xvin, 5). R. Isaac said: In the 
Torah [i.e. the Pentateuch], the Prophets, and the Writings 
we find that bread strengthens the heart. In the Torah: 
And Iwillfetchamorselof bread, and 
stay ye your heart. In the Prophets : Stay thy 

1 This verse is not really appropriate, since it refers to punishment. 
It is merely quoted to prove that the quails came from God, while the 
verse treating of quails as a reward is in Ex. xvi, 13 : And it came to pass 
in the evening, that the quails came up. 2 In Tiransjordania, where they 
received their territory instead of on the west of the Jordan. 

412 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLVIII. 11-12 

heart with a morsel of bread (Judg. xix, 5). In the Writings: 
And bread that stayeth man's heart (Ps. civ, 15). 

R. Aha said: It is not written, 'And stay le-babekem,' 
but 'And stay libkem' (your heart). 1 This proves that the 
Tempter has no power over angels. 2 That is R. Hiyya's 
view too, for R. Hiyya said: It is not written, 'Turn 
lebabekem (your hearts) to the dance/ but, Turn libekem 
{your hearts) to the dance (Ps. xlviii, 17). 3 This proves that 
the Tempter will have no sway in the Messianic future. 

Since for this purpose ye are come to your 
servant. R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah said: [Abraham 
urged :] Since the day when the Holy One, blessed be He, 
created you ye were destined to come to me. Since 
for this purpose (ki *al ken) ye are come: 
[ken has the same meaning here as in the verse] So (ken) 
be the Lord with you (Ex. x, io). 4 

And they said: So do thou, as thou hast said. 
'As for us/ said they, 'we neither eat nor drink; but thou 
who dost eat and drink, So do thou, as thou hast 
said, and may this day be repeated in honour of the son 
[that will be born to thee]/ 5 

12. And Abraham hastened into the tent 
unto Sarah, and said: Make ready quickly 
three measures of fine meal (xviii, 6). R. 
Abiathar said: She baked nine measures in all, three of 
cakes, three of habiz* and three of pastries. 7 Knead 

1 The shorter form cm 1 ? is used, and he regards this as a limitation. 

2 Hence their hearts were all as one — to do good — and they did not have 
two hearts, as it were, one to do good and the other to do evil. 

3 E.V. 'Mark ye well her ramparts' — le-helah. The Rabbis, however, 
read it le-holah, which they derive from mehol, a dance, and interpret it 
as referring to the life of happiness, as a dance, which the righteous will 
enjoy in the Messianic future. 4 I.e. ye are come so — for this purpose. 

5 Then too you will have an opportunity of displaying hospitality to 
guests. Th. Mah. and Rash.: this is deduced from the word wvr\ 9 
which is imperfect, lit. ' so wilt thou do — on a future occasion*. 

6 Jast.: a dish of flour, honey and oil beaten into a pulp. 

7 The Heb. is kemah soleth (E.V. 'fine meal'). Actually kemah denotes 
a coarse flour, and so R. Abiathar maintains that separate confections 
were made from kemah and soleth respectively, while 'three measures' 
denotes yet other kinds of pastries. 

413 



XLVIII. I2-I4J MIDRASH RABBAH 

it, and make cakes ('ugoth). 1 It was the season 
of Passover. 2 R. Jonah and R. Levi in the name of R. 
Hama b. R. Hanina said: The wilderness of Sin and the 
wilderness of Alush 3 are one and the same. [The change of 
name to Alush teaches this] : On account of whose merit 
were Israel privileged to have the manna given to them? 
On account of [the merit of Abraham who said]: 
Lushi (knead it), and make cakes. 4 

13. And Abraham ran unto the herd (xviii, 
7). R. Levi said : He ran to anticipate the people of whom 
it is written, Ephraim is a heifer well broken, that loveth to 
thresh (Hos. x, n). 5 

And fetched a calf. You might think that it was 
full-grown 6 ; therefore T e n d e r is stated. 7 If t e n d e r , 
you might think that it was lacking [in flavour] 8 ; therefore 
and good is stated. And gave it unto the lad: 
this was Ishmael, [Abraham's] purpose being to train him 
in good deeds, 

14. And he took butter, and milk (xviii, 8). 
R. IJanina said: Best [butter] is made from a hundredth 
part of the milk 9 ; medium quality is from a fortieth part ; 
while inferior [butter] is from a twentieth. Now where was 
the bread? 10 Ephraim Miksha'ah, 11 a disciple of R. Meir, 
said in R. Meir's name : Sarah became menstruous and the 
dough was defiled. The Rabbis said : He certainly brought 

1 "Ugoth" are thin wafers, in the form in which unleavened bread is 
baked, and the Rabbis understood it to mean unleavened cakes. 

2 Or, Passover eve, dib meaning half — i.e. the second half of the day 
preceding Passover (Y.T.). 3 V. Num. xxxni, 13. 

4 By a play on words Alush is derived from lushi. The manna was given 
to Israel in the wilderness of Sin (v. Ex. xvi). 

6 'Rashi': he ran to prepare atonement in anticipation for Ephraim, 
6 The Heb. ipa p might mean a member of the herd, not necessarily 
a calf. 7 Heb. -p, which refers to the young. 

8 So young that the flesh had not yet developed its proper taste. 

9 I.e. from the creamiest part of its cream. 

10 It is not mentioned that he did actually give them bread. 

11 A nickname meaning one who was fond of raising difficulties. Others 
a cucumber merchant. 

414 



'genesis (vayera) [XLVIII. 14-15 

them bread too, for if he brought them what he had not 
offered, 1 how much more what he had offered ! 2 

And he stood over them. But earlier you read, 
Three men stood over him (Gen. xvm, 2) ? The explanation is 
this : before they had performed their mission, ' They stood 
over him >z \ but when they had performed their mission, 
He stood over them: he inspired them with fear, 
and so he stood over them, 4 Michael trembled and Gabriel 
trembled. R. Tanhuma in R. Eleazar's name and R. Abun 
in R. Meir's name said: The proverb runs, 'When in 
Rome, do as Rome does/ 5 Above [in the celestial sphere] 
there is no eating and drinking; hence when Moses 
ascended on high he appeared like them [the angels], as 
it says, Then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights ; 
I did neither eat bread nor drink water (Deut. ix, 9). But 
below, where there is eating and drinking, we find, 
And he stood by them under the tree, and 
they did eat. Did they then eat? They pretended to 
eat, removing each course in turn. 

15. And they said unto him (elaw): Where 
is Sarah thy wife (xviii, 9)? The alef yod, and 
wow are dotted, but the lamed is not dotted. 6 R. Simeon b. 
Eleazar said : Wherever you find the plain writing exceeding 
the dotted letters, you must interpret the plain writing; 
if the dotted letters exceed the plain writing, you must 
interpret the dotted letters. Here that the dotted letters 
exceed the undotted, you must interpret the dotted text. 
Thus, [the angels asked Sarah,] 'Where is he — Abraham?' 7 
R. 'Azariah said: Just as they said to Abraham, 'Where 
is Sarah,' so they said to Sarah, 'Where is Abraham?' 
And he said: Behold, in the tent. Thus it is 

1 Sc. milk and (butter) curd. 

2 Therefore the mention of it is omitted as superfluous. 

3 As though his superiors. 

4 Now that they had nothing more to do, he became their superior. 

5 Lit,, 'when you enter a town, follow its customs'. 

6 The word i^k in this passage is traditionally written 1^«. 

7 The three dotted letters read y»K, where is he. The question is probably 
meant in the sense of ' how is he ? ' and was asked as a matter of polite- 
ness; cf. B.M. 87a. 

4*5 



XLVIII. 15-16] MIDRASH RABBAH 

written, Blessed above women shall Jael be, the wife of Heber 
the Kenite, above women in the tent shall she be blessed (Judg. 
v, 24). R. Eleazar said: It means, above the women of the 
generation of the wilderness. They gave birth to children, 
yet but for her [Jael] they [the children] would have been 
destroyed. 1 R. Samuel b. Nahman said: Above the 
Matriarchs. They gave birth to children, yet but for her 
they would have been destroyed. 

16. And he said: I will certainly return 
unto thee when the season cometh round 
. . . and Sarah heard in the tent door, and 
he was behind him (xviii, 10). This refers to 
Ishmael: And he was behind him, so that they [the 
angel and Sarah] should not be alone. Another interpre- 
tation 2 : And he was behind him: she understood 
that the guest had come. 3 

Now Abraham and Sarah were old (xviii, ii). 
R. Johanan said : Since it is now written, Now 
Abraham and Sarah were old, why is it again 
written, Now Abraham was old (Gen. xxiv, 1) ? 4 The reason 
is because the Holy One, blessed be He, restored him to 
the days of his youth, therefore, 'And Abraham was old* 
must then be written a second time. R. Ammi said: Here 
old age combined with virility is meant, while further on it 
means old age without virility. 

It had ceased (hadal) to be with Sarah 
after the manner of women. [IIadal means], it 
had forborne, as in the verse, But if thou shalt forbear 
(te-hedal) to vow (Deut. xxiii, 23). Or, it had ceased; as 
in the verse, And forbear eth (we-hadal) to keep the passover 
(Num. IX, 13). 6 

1 By Sisera. 2 This is the reading in M.K., 

3 Th. : Presumably he reads we-ki, and she was behind him. She under- 
stood that Abraham had ordered the preparations for guests, and so she 
stood behind him to hear what they would say. 

4 The second verse refers to a later period. 

5 The translation follows Th. We have here two renderings of 'hadal': 
(i) it had forborne or refrained — i.e. her menses were now irregular; 
and (11) they had altogether ceased. 

416 



genesis (vayera) [XLVIII. 17-19 

17. And Sarah laughed within herself(be- 
k;irbah), saying (xviii, 12). This is one of the texts 
which they amended for King Ptolemy, reading it, 
And Sarah laughed before her relatives (bi-kero- 
behah), Saying . . .* After I am waxed old, I 
shall have 'ednah [E.V. 'pleasure']. She said 
thus : ' As long as a woman is young she has finery, whereas 
After I am waxed old, I shall have 'ednah, 
that means finery, as in the verse, / decked thee also with 
ornaments — 'edi (Ezek. xvi, 11). A woman, as long as she 
is young, has her regular periods, while After I am 
waxed old, I shall have 'ednah, i.e. menses. 2 
The fact, however, is that My lord is old/ Rab 
Judah said : He is virile, yet impotent. R. Judah b. R. Simon 
said: [The Holy One, blessed be He, said:] 'Ye declare 
yourselves young and your companions old, 3 yet I am 
t o o o l d (xviii, 13) to perform miracles P 4 

18. And the Lord said unto Abraham: 
Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying . . . seeing 
that I am old (xviii, 13). Bar Kappara said: Great is 
peace, for even Scripture made a mis-statement in order to 
preserve peace between Abraham and Sarah. Thus, it is 
written, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying: 

SHALL I OF A SURETY BEAR A CHILD? It does not 

say, 'Since my lord is old* but Seeing that / 

AM OLD. 

19. IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD (XVIII, 

14). R. Judah said in the name of R. Judan b. R. Simon: 
This may be compared to a man who had in his hand 

1 V. supra, p. 61, n. 1. Rashi in Meg. ga: they amended the text so that 

Ptolemy might understand that God was angry with Sarah because 

she had publicly laughed at the promise, whereas Abraham had laughed 

to himself (v. xvn, 17). 

a According to this, she stated that she would become young. 

8 I.e. even Sarah ridiculed the promise on account of Abraham's age, 

thus implying that she herself was young enough. 

* This takes the And I am old in v. 13 to refer to God, spoken as a 

reproof. 

417 Be 



XLVIII. I9-20] MIDRASH RABBAH 

two parts of a lock 1 and went to a smith and asked him: 
' Can you repair these ? * ' I can make them from the outset/ 
he replied, ' and you think that I cannot repair them ! ' So 
here, [God said], 'I can create man from the beginning, 
yet [you would say that] I cannot restore them to their 
youth!' 

20. Then Sarah denied, saying: I laughed 
not, etc. R. Judah b. R. Simon and R. Johanan in the 
name of R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: The Holy One, 
blessed be He, never condescended to converse with a 
woman save with that righteous woman [viz. Sarah], and 
that too was through a particular cause. R. Abba b. Kahana 
said in R. Biryi's name: And what a roundabout way He 
sought in order to speak with her, as it is written, 
And he said: Nay, but thou didst laugh. But 
it is written, And she [Hagar] called the name of the Lord that 
spoke unto her, etc. (Gen. xvi, 13)? Said R. Joshua in R. 
Nehemiah's name in R. Idi's name: That was through an 
angel. But it is written, And the Lord said unto her — 
Rebekah (ib. xxv, 23)? R. Levi said in the name of R. 
rlama b. R. IJanina: That was through an angel. R. 
Leazar said in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra: That was 
through the medium of Shem. 2 

And the men rose up from thence, and 
looked out toward Sodom; and Abraham 
went with them to bring them on the way 
(xvin, 16). So runs the proverb: 'When you have given 
your guest food and drink, escort him/ Hence, And 
Abraham went with them to bring them on 

THE WAY* 

1 Or, two parts of a chain (Th.). • Supra, xx, 6. 



418 



[XLIX. i 

Chapter XLIX (VAYERA) 

i. And the Lord said: Shall I hide from 
Abraham (xviii, 17)? R. Isaac commenced his dis- 
course thus : The memory of the righteous shall be for a 
blessing (Prov. x, 7), Said R. Isaac: If one makes mention 
of a righteous man and does not bless him, he violates a 
positive command. What is the proof? ' The memory of the 
righteous shall be for a blessing,' While he who mentions 
a wicked man and does not curse him also violates a 
positive command. What is the reason ? But the name of the 
wicked shall rot (ib.). R. Samuel b. Nahman said: The 
names of the wicked are like weaving implements, as 
long as you use them, they remain taut, if you lay them 
aside, they slacken. Thus, have you ever heard a man call 
his son Pharaoh, Sisera, or Sennacherib? No: he calls 
him Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, or Simeon, Levi or 
Judah. 1 Rab [whenever he mentioned Haman] would 
say, 'Cursed be Haman and his children/ R. Phinehas 
said: One must say, 'Harbonah, be he remembered for 
good/ 2 

R. Samuel b. Nahman said : We find that when the Holy 
One, blessed be He, mentions Israel by name, He blesses 
them, as it says, The Lord hath been mindful of us, He will 
bless . . . the house of Israel (Ps. cxv, 12). R. Huna said in 
the name of R. Aha: I know this only of six hundred 
thousand. 3 How do we know that the Lord blesses every 
single Israelite when He mentions his name? Because it 
says: And the Lord said: Shall I hide from 
Abraham that which I am doing; and Abraham 



1 Cur. edd. add: R. Berekiah, R. rlelbo in the name of R. Samuel b. 
Nahman and R. Jonathan, when they came to the verse, Who had been 
carried away from Jerusalem with the captives . . . whom Nebuchadnezzar 
„ . . had carried away (Est. n, 6) would exclaim, ' Nebuchadnezzar, rot 
his bones!' Then why did they not say this (when they read his name) 
in the Book of Jeremiah? Because whenever Nebuchadnezzar occurs 
in Jeremiah he was yet alive; whereas here (in the book of Esther) he 
was already dead. 

2 V. Est. vn, 9. Text as emended according to Jer. Meg. in ad fin. 
8 I.e. God blesses Israel when He mentions the whole nation. 

419 



XLIX. 1-2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

SHALL SURELY BECOME A GREAT AND MIGHTY 

nation. Now Scripture need merely have said, And the 
Lord said : Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great 
(Gen. xviii, 20), but the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 
' Having made mention of this righteous man, shall I not 
bless him ? ' Hence, And Abrahamshallsurely 

BECOME A GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION. 

2. It is written, The secret [E.V. 'counsel'] of the Lord 
is with them that fear Him and His covenant, to make them 
know it (Ps. xxv, 14). x 

Another interpretation : ' The secret of the Lord is with 
them that fear Him.' At first the secret of the Lord was 

1 Cur. edd. add : Now what is the secret of the Lord ? Circumcision, which 
He did not reveal until twenty generations after Noah, i.e. until 
Abraham arose and He gave it to him, as it says, And I will give [E.V. 
'establish'] My covenant between Me and thee (Gen. xvn, 7). [Radal: 
Between Me and thee implies that it was in the nature of a secret which 
remains as it were between two.] Now God said to him: 'If thou wilt 
circumcise thyself, thou wilt receive the secret (sod) of the Lord.' What 
is the secret (sod) of the Lord? Samech stands for sixty, waw for six, 
and daleth for four [that is the Hebrew spelling of sod ("Hd)], making 
seventy in all. [Thus God said] : ' In the merit of circumcision I will cause 
seventy people to spring from thee, as it says, Thy fathers went down into 
Egypt with threescore and ten persons (Deut. x, 22). From them I will set 
up seventy elders, as it says, Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of 
Israel (Num. xi, 16). From them I will raise up Moses, who will 
study the Torah in seventy languages,' as it says, Moses took upon 
him to clarify [E.V. 'expound'] this law (Deut. 1, 4). [By 'clarify' the 
Rabbis understood that it was to be intelligible to all peoples ; hence it 
must have been explained in all languages.] For the merit of what was 
all this ? For the merit of circumcision, as it says, The secret of the Lord 
is with them that fear Him, and His covenant. [' Covenant' was often under- 
stood to refer to circumcision.] The Holy One, blessed be He, said to 
Abraham: 'It is sufficient for a servant to be like his master/ [Mah. 
holds that this is out of place here. Some commentators attempt to fit 
it in, but not very plausibly.] Then Abraham said to Him; 'And who 
shall circumcise me?' 'Thyself,' He replied. Abraham took a knife forth- 
with and held his foreskin and was about to cut it, yet he was afraid, 
being an old man. What did the Lord do? He put forth His hand and 
held it with him, whilst Abraham cut. For it says, Thou art the Lord God> 
who didst choose Abram . . . and didst cut [E.V. 'modest'] a covenant with 
him (Neh. ix, 7 f.). Now it is not written, 'and didst cut a covenant for 
him,' but 'And didst cut a covenant with him' \ which teaches that the Lord 
held [the foreskin] with him. 

420 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 2 

with them that feared Him ; later it was with the upright, 1 
as it is written, But His secret is with the upright (Prov. 
in, 32); and finally with the prophets, as it says, For the 
Lord God will do nothing, hut He revealeth His secret unto 
His servants the prophets (Amos in, 7). Now the Holy One, 
blessed be He, said: 'This Abraham is God-fearing/ 
as it says, Now I know that thou art a God-fearing man 
(Gen. xxn, 12); 'this Abraham is upright/ as it says, The 
upright love thee (S.S. I, 4) 2 ; 'this Abraham is a prophet/ 
as it says, Now therefore restore the man's wife, for he is a 
prophet (Gen. xx, 7) : ' shall I then not reveal it to him ? >3 
Hence, And the Lord said: Shall I hide from 
Abraham, etc. 

And the Lord said: Shall I hide from 
Abraham that which I am doing, etc. R. Joshua 
b. Levi said : It is like a king who presented an estate to his 
friend and subsequently wished to cut down five non- 
fruit-bearing trees from it. Said the king: 'Had I wanted 
[to cut them] down even from his patrimony, he would 
certainly not refuse me: what then can I lose? 4 And 
so he consulted him about it. Similarly, the Holy One, 
blessed be He, said : ' I have already made a gift of this land 
to Abraham/ as it says, Unto thy seed have I given this land 
(ib. xv, 18). 'Now these five towns 5 were indeed in My 
territory; yet if I desired them even of his ancestral 
heritage he would not refuse Me: what then does it 
matter [if I ask him] ? And so He consulted him. R. Judah 
b. R. Simon said: This may be compared to a king who 
had three friends without whose consent he did nothing. 
But on one occasion he desired to do something without 
their consent. Whereupon he evicted one from the palace ; 

1 Heb. D*nt^ : from the context these appear to be of a higher spiritual 

level. a E.V. 'Sincerely do they love thee*. The verse is referred to 

Abraham; v. supra, xlviii, 6; S.S. R. 1, 4. 

8 Sc. the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

4 Lit. 'what is in it' — if I ask him first. 

6 Which I am to destroy, viz. Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, 

and Lasha, mentioned in x, 19. According to tradition all five were 

destroyed. They are likened to non-fruit-bearing trees, because they 

produced nothing good. 

421 



XLIX. 2] MIDRASH RABBAH 

the second he put in prison, affixing his seal on it [the 
prison door]. But as for the third, whom he loved exceed- 
ingly, he said, * I cannot do anything without his consent/ 
Similarly, Adam — So He drove out the man (Gen. in, 24) ; 
Noah — And the Lord shut him in (ib. vn, 16). But as He 
loved Abraham so much He said, ' I will do nothing 
without his consent/ R. Samuel b. Nahmansaid: It maybe 
compared to a king who had an adviser without whose 
consent He did nothing. On one occasion, however, he 
wished to do something without his consent, whereupon 
he observed : ' Surely I made him my adviser for no other 
reason than that I should do nothing without his consent/ 
R. Judan said : The Holy One, blessed be He, said thus : 
' Did I designate him The man of My counsel (Isa. xlvi, 11) 
for any other reason than that I should do nothing without 
his consent? With them [the Sodomites] is Lot, his 
brother's son, yet I am not to reveal it to him [Abraham] !' 
The Rabbis said: I have already called him their father, 
as it says, For the father of a multitude of nations have I 
made thee (Gen. xvn, 5) : does one judge the son without 
the father's knowledge? Gehenna I have revealed to him: 
the giving of the Torah I have revealed to him; shall I 
not reveal to him Sodom's judgment! 1 

R. Aha said in R. Alexandri's name, and R. Samuel b. 
Nahman said in R. Nathan's name: Abraham knew even 
the laws of the { erub of courtyards. 2 R. Phinehas, R. 
Helkiah, and R. Simon in the name of R. Samuel said: 
Abraham even knew the new name which the Holy One, 
blessed be He, will one day give to Jerusalem, as it says, 
At that time they shall call Jerusalem, The Throne of God 
(Jer. in, 17). R. Berekiah, R. Iliyya, and the Rabbis of 
that country [Babylonia] in R. Judah's name said : Not a 
day passes in which the Holy One, blessed be He, does 
not teach a new law (halachah) in the heavenly Court. 
What is the proof? Hear attentively the noise of His voice, 

1 Cf. supra, xliv, 21. 

2 This and the following sentences are out of place, and belong to xxvi, 5 : 
Because that . . . Abraham kept . , . My laws — hence the comments on 
Abraham's knowledge of God's laws. 

422 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 2-4 

and the meditation that goeth out of His mouth (Job xxxvn, 
2). Now ' meditation 9 refers to nought but Torah, as in 
the verse, But thou shalt meditate therein day and night 
(Josh. 1, 8). Even those laws Abraham knew. 

3. Seeing that Abraham shall surely be- 
come — hayoh yihyeh (xviii, 18). R. Tanhum said in 
the name of R. Hus Elai 1 in R. Berekiah's name: He in- 
formed him that the world must never contain less than thirty 
righteous men like Abraham. 2 R. Judan and R. Aha in 
R. Alexandras name deduced it from this verse: Seeing 
that Abraham shall surely become — hayoh 
yihyeh : yod is ten, heh five, yod ten, and heh five. 3 

4. For I have known him, to the end that 

HE MAY COMMAND HIS CHILDREN ANDmSHOUSE- 
HOLD AFTER HIM THAT THEY MAY KEEP THE 
WAY OF THE LORD, TO DO RIGHTEOUSNESS AND 

justice — zedakah u-mishpat (xviii, 19). R. Aha said 
in R. Alexandras name : This {zedakah) refers to his hospi- 
tality [to wayfarers]. 4 — The Rabbis said: It refers to 
visiting the sick. R. 'Azariah said in R. Judah's name: 
First zedakah and then mishpat (justice): how is this to 
be understood? 5 Abraham used to receive wayfarers. 
After they had eaten and drunk he would say to them, 
'Now recite Grace/ 'What shall we say?' they asked. 
* Blessed be the God of the Universe of whose bounty 
we have partaken/ he replied. If one consented to recite 
grace, he would [be allowed to] eat, drink, and depart. 
But if one refused, he would demand, ' Pay me what you 
owe me/ 'Why, what do I owe you? ' he would reply. 
' One xestes* of wine costs ten f otter a? a pound of meat 

1 A name not occurring elsewhere ; nevertheless it appears to be correct, 
being found in several MSS. 2 Cf. supra, xxxv, 2. 
s These are the letters of nw. 4 Cur. edd.: to the (provision of) the 
mourner's meal — which had to be provided by neighbours. 

5 ' Zedahiah' and 'mishpat* were often regarded as antithetical, 'mishpat' 
being an insistence on the strict letter of the law, while 'zedakah* 
connotes a kindly forbearance. 

6 A measure, nearly a pint. 7 Jast. : A small debased coin. 

423 



XLIX. 4-6] MIDRASH RABBAH 

costs ten f oiler a; a round of bread costs ten follera. Who 
will give you wine in the wilderness; who will give you 
meat in the wilderness; who will give you bread in the 
wilderness? ' Seeing himself thus driven into a corner, 
he who would say, * Blessed be the God of the Universe of 
whose bounty we have eaten/ Hence zed a k ah is 
written first and then MIS HP AT. 

TO THE END THAT THE LORD MAY BRING UPON 

Abraham, etc. R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: He who 
leaves a son toiling in the Torah is as though he had not 
died. What is the proof? — The verse, totheendthat 
the Lord may bring upon Abraham that 
which he hath spoken of him. It does not say 
simply, that which he hath spoken, but that 
which the Lord hath spoken of him. 1 

5. And the Lord said: Verily, the cry of 
Sodom and Gomorrah is great (xviii, 20). R. 
Hanina interpreted: It waxed ever greater. R. Berekiah 
said in R. Johanan's name: We know that the generation 
of the Flood was punished by water, and the Sodomites 
by fire: whence do we know to apply what is stated here 
to the case above, and the reverse? Because 'great' is 
mentioned in both places, affording an analogy. 2 

6. I will go down now (xviii, 21). R. Simeon b. 
Yohai taught : This is one of the ten descents mentioned 
in the Torah. 3 R. Abba b. Kahana said: This teaches that 
the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them the opportunity 
of repenting. For it says, I will go down now, and 
see whether they have done according to 
the cry of it, then it is an end 4 — they must be 
completely destroyed; And if not, I will know, i.e. 
I will teach them that the Attribute of Justice exists in 

1 Implying that God's promises actually applied to Abraham himself. 
But of course Abraham died long before the land became his ; hence he 
must still be regarded as alive, because his descendants are occupied in 
the study of the Torah. a V. supra, xxvn, 3. 
3 Supra, xxxviii, 9. * E.V ' have done altogether according,' etc. 

424 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 6-7 

the world. 1 R. Levi said: [God said]: 'Even if I wished 
to keep silent, justice for a certain maiden (ribah) does not 
permit Me to keep silent/ 2 For it once happened that 
two damsels went down to draw water from a well. Said 
one to the other, 'Why are you so pale?' 'We have no 
more food left and are ready to die,' replied she. What 
did she do? She filled her pitcher with flour and they 
exchanged [their pitchers], each taking the other's. When 
they [the Sodomites] discovered this, they took and burnt 
her. 3 Said the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Even if I desired 
to be silent, justice for that maiden does not permit Me 
to keep silent/ Hence it does not say, Whether they 

HAVE DONE ACCORDING TO THEIR CRY; but ACCORD- 
ING TO her cry 4 — the cry of that maiden. 

R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: The real prosperity of 
Sodom lasted fifty-two years only, and for twenty-five of 
these the Holy One, blessed be He, made the mountains 
to tremble and brought terrors upon them in order that 
they might reform, yet they did not. Hence it is written, 
Who removeth the mountains, and they know it not, when 
He overturneth them in His anger (Job ix, 5). 

7. And the men turned (wayyifenu) from 
thence (xviii, 22). This proves that angels have no 
back. 5 And they went toward Sodom; but 
Abraham stood yet before the Lord. R. Simon 



1 Rendering: And if not, they are not as evil now as the cry which 
has ascended to Me, I will know how to punish them by 
suffering, thus vindicating the demands of justice for their past misdeeds, 
yet I will not utterly destroy them. Thus they were given an opportunity 
of repenting. This interpretation is adopted because otherwise it would 
appear that God, the omniscient, did not know whether they were evil 
or not, which is impossible (Mah.). 

2 By a play on words rabbah, great, is read ribah> a maiden, and the verse 
translated : The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah on account of the maiden. 

3 As they had strictly forbidden chanty; cf. Sanh. 109 a, b. 

4 Lit. translation. 

5 M.K. and Y.T.: 'from thence' is apparently superfluous, as it is obvious. 
Hence * wayyifenu ' is connected with panim, face, a(nd the verse trans- 
lated : And the men went toward Sodom, yet their faces were still looking 
upon the place whence they came. 

425 



XLIX. 7~8] MIDRASH RABBAH 

said: This is an emendation of the Soferim, for the 
Shechinah was actually waiting for Abraham. 1 

8. And Abraham drew near, and said, etc. 
(xvin, 23). R. Judah, R. Nehemiah, and the Rabbis each 
commented. R. Judah said: He drew near for battle, 
as it says, So Joab and the people that were with him drew 
nigh unto battle, etc. (11 Sam. x, 13). R. Nehemiah said: 
He drew near for conciliation, as in the verse, Then the 
children of Judah drew nigh unto Joshua (Josh. Xiv, 6) — 
to effect a reconciliation. The Rabbis said: He drew nigh 
for prayer, as it says, And it came to pass at the time of 
the offering of the evening offering, that Elijah the prophet 
came near, and said: O Lord, the God of Abraham, of 
Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art 
God in Israel, etc. (1 Kings xvin, 36). 2 R. Leazar said: 
Interpret it thus: I come, whether it be for battle, con- 
ciliation, or prayer. R. Phinehas, R. Levi, and R. Johanan, 
in the name of Menahem of Gallia, 3 said: When one 
passes before the Ark, 4 we do not say to him, 'Come and 
do/ 5 but 'Come and draw near', which means, Come and 
wage war for us, come and offer the public sacrifice 
[i.e. pray]. 6 R. Tanhuma said: Why did they institute 
that the fifteenth benediction should be 'who heareth 
prayer'? 7 — To correspond to the Divine Name which 

1 V. Ex. R. xli, 4. The phrase, But Abraham . . . Lord 
implies that he was still at the same place, which is incorrect, since he 
had accompanied the angels some distance. Hence it really means that 
the Lord was still standing before Abraham, since He is omnipresent, 
but as it would be derogatory to His honour to say that He was standing 
before Abraham, as an inferior before his superior, it is reversed. Y.T. 
and Th. : this does not mean that the Soferim actually emended the Bible, 
but that it was originally written thus in such a way that it might loosely 
appear a Soferic emendation. 

2 He drew near to do 'battle', i.e. argue with God, viz. That be far from 
thee, etc. (v. 25); to conciliate: Behold, now, I have taken upon me to 
speak unto the Lord, etc. (v. 27); to pray: Peradventure there are fifty 
righteous, etc. (v. 24). — Mah. v. infra, xcrn, 6. 

8 Gallia or Galatia in Asia Minor. * To officiate as Reader for the 
Congregation. 5 Which means, Come and do your duty. 

6 Because * draw near ' implies both. 

7 In the original 'Amidah of eighteen Benedictions (before a nineteenth 
was added), the fifteenth ended with the formula, 'Who heareth prayer.' 

426 



GENESIS (vayera) [XLIX. 8 

occurs fifteen times in the Psalm, Ascribe unto the Lord, 
O ye sons of might ... as far as The Lord sat enthroned 
at the flood (Ps. xxix), which restrains punishment from 
visiting the world. 1 

Wilt thou indeed sweep away the righteous 
with the wicked? R. Huna said in R. Aha's name: 
Wilt thou indeed (ha-af) sweep away (tispeh): 
Thou confinest anger, but anger cannot confine Thee. 2 
R. Joshua b. Nehemiah interpreted it: The anger (of) 
which Thou bringest upon Thy world, wouldst Thou 
destroy therewith the righteous and the wicked ! 3 And not 
enough that Thou dost not suspend judgment of the 
wicked for the sake of the righteous, but Thou wouldst 
even destroy the righteous with the wicked! 

Rabbi and R. Jonathan each commented. Rabbi said: 
[Abraham pleaded:] A human being is mastered by his 
anger, but the Holy One, blessed be He, masters anger, 
as it says, The Lord avengeth and master eth wrath (Nahum I, 
2). 4 R. Jonathan said: A human being is mastered by his 
jealousy, but the Holy One, blessed be He, masters His 
jealousy, as it says, The Lord is God [i.e. master] over 
jealousy and vengeance (ib. i). 5 

R. Simlai asked R. Jonathan: 'What is meant by the 
verse, But there is that is swept away without judgment 
(Prov. xiii, 23) ?' 6 'It means without judgment on his 
own town,' 7 he answered. Thus it once happened that a 
man was sent to collect [a fine] from the citizens of Tiberias 
and Sepphoris. Whilst he was thus collecting in Tiberias, 
he saw a citizen of Sepphoris, whereupon he arose and 
seized him. 8 'I belong to Sepphoris/ he protested. 'I 
have warrants instructing me to collect in Sepphoris 
too/ he replied; but before he finished collecting in 

x I.e. Israel's prayers stay punishment. The Lord sat enthroned at the 
flood is understood as a reference to His oath not to repeat the flood. 
2 Translating af % 'anger,' and tispeh 'to take away', 'remove/ from asaf 
whence 'to dominate'. Thou dost rule Thine anger. 
8 This gives tispeh its usual meaning of 'to destroy*. 
*E.V. 'Is full of wrath.* 5 E.V.: 'The Lord is a jealous and 
avenging God.' fl E.V. . . . 'by want of righteousness.' 
7 As explained. 8 For payment. 

427 



XLIX. 8-9] MIDRASH RABBAH 

Tiberias, remission was granted to Sepphoris, and thus 
this man was 'gathered in' without the judgment of his 
own town. R. Levi and R. Simon commented, R. Levi 
said: [Abraham pleaded: 'Is Thine anger] like a she-bear 
ravaging among animals which, if it does not find another 
beast to destroy, destroys its own young!' R. Simon said: 
[Is Thine anger] like a scythe which cuts down thorns, 
but when it finds [no more] cuts down roses! 

9. That be far from thee — halilah lak (xviii, 
25). R. Judan interpreted: It is a profanation (halalah) 
for Thee, it is alien to Thy nature. R. Aha said :Halilah 
is written twice, 1 implying, Such action would profane 
(Mat) the Divine Name. 2 R. Abba said: Not 'to do this* 
is written here, but To do after this manner: 
neither this or anything like it nor anything even of a 
lesser nature. 

R. Levi said: Two men said the same thing, viz. 
Abraham and Job. Abraham : That be far from thee, 

TO DO AFTER THIS MANNER, TO SLAY THE RIGHTEOUS 

with the wicked. Job: It is all one — therefore I say : 
He destroy eth the innocent and the wicked (Job IX, 22). 
Yet Abraham was rewarded for it, while Job was punished 
for it ! The reason is because Abraham said it in confirma- 
tion, 3 while Job said it in cavil : ( It is all one!' R. rliyya 
b. Abba said: We have here a merging of answers. 4 Thus 
Abraham said: That be far from thee, to which 
God replied: So shall [the wicked] be as the 
righteous! Thou desirest that judgment of the wicked 
should be suspended for the sake of the righteous ; but are 
they righteous ? Surely they are but counterfeit righteous ! 
For R. Johanan said: Wherever zaddikim (righteous) 
occurs in connection with Sodom, it is spelled defectively. 5 

1 In that verse, q.v. a Thus the first ' halilah ' means ' foreign ', and the 
second, it would profane Thee — by casting doubts upon Thy justice. 
s I.e. surely God is not so unjust as to slay the righteous with the wicked ! 
* Abraham's question and God's answer are merged. 
5 I.e. Dpm instead of ff»p^5f, the second yod being missing. This 
intimates that the righteousness even of those who laid claim to it was 
defective, a hypocritical pretence. 

428 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 9 

That corresponds with R. Johanan's view, for R. Johanan 
said: And our elders (zekenenu) and all the inhabitants 
of our country spoke to us (Josh, ix, n): it is spelled 
'zekenenu', 1 intimating that they were elders in wrong- 
doing, eiders in wickedness. 2 

R. Joshua b. Levi said: [Abraham pleaded,] 'Combine 
their good deeds, and so they will amount to fifty.' 3 
R. Judah b. R. Simon said: [Abraham pleaded:] 'Art 
Thou not the righteous One of the universe? Combine 
Thyself with them and they will amount to fifty.' R. Judah 
b. R. Simon said: [Abraham pleaded thus:] 'Even in 
the case of a human judge, an appeal can be made from 
the commander to the prefect and from the prefect to the 
governor; but Thou, because no appeal can be made from 
Thy judgment, wilt Thou not do justly ? ' R. Judah said 
further : When Thou desiredst to judge Thy world, Thou 
didst entrust it to two, Romulus and Remus, 4 so that if 
one wished to do something the other could veto him; 
while Thou, because there is none to veto Thee, wilt 
Thou not do justly? 

R. Aha said: [Abraham pleaded:] 'Thou hast sworn 
not to bring a deluge upon the world. Wouldst Thou 
evade Thine oath ! Not a deluge of water wilt Thou bring 
but a deluge of fire ? Then Thou hast not acted according 
to Thine oath.' R. Levi commented: Shall not the 
Judge of all the earth do justly? If Thou 
desirest the world to endure, there can be no absolutely 
strict judgment, while if Thou desirest absolutely strict 
judgment, the world cannot endure, yet Thou wouldst 
hold the cord by both ends, desiring both the world and 
absolute judgment! Unless Thou foregoest a little, the 



1 irapT instead of UTpr. 

2 'Elders' means chiefs: in wickedness and evil too they were elders. 

8 Many must have some little good in them, and if Thou combinest 
the good of all it will be equivalent to that of fifty righteous men. 
4 The legendary founders of Rome. These are mentioned because Rome 
did appear as God's instrument for punishing the world. Or possibly 
(as Th.) this is a reference to the early Roman system of dyarchy, under 
which a duumvirate ruled, and appeal could be made from the decision 
of one to the other, 

429 



XLIX. 9-IO] MIDRASH RABBAH 

world cannot endure. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, 
to Abraham: 'Thou hast loved righteousness (Ps. xlv, 8): 
thou hast loved to justify My creatures ; and hated w icked- 
ness : thou hast refused to condemn them. Therefore God, 
thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above 
thy fellows (ib.). From Noah to thee were ten generations, 
and out of all of them I remembered but thee alone/ 1 

10. And the Lordsaid:ifI findin Sodom 
(xviii, 26). R. Judah b. R. Simon, in the name of R. Joshua 
b. Levi, quoted: For it is for God to have said; I have for- 
given (Job xxxiv, 31). 2 Thus, Then will I forgive 
all the place for their sake. Lo ehbol (ib.) means, 
I will not take them in pledge, as in the verse, 3 If thou 
at all take thy neighbour's garment to pledge — tahbol (Ex. 
xxn, 25). Yet they [men] abuse Me with words and say: 
'He does not judge well.' Apart from Myself, I will see 
(Job xxxiv, 32)*: i.e. without Me, do thou go and scrutinise 
My judgment. And if I have erred, Teach thou Me (ib.). 
And if I have wrought injustice (ib.) to the earlier genera- 
tions, 5 / will do it no more to the later generations. 6 

To him will I keep silence [and] to his branches (Job xli, 4) 7 : 
[God said to Abraham:] 'To thee will I keep silence and 
to the branches that proceed from thee.' [I will keep 
silence] to Abraham, who said: That be far from 
Thee to do after this manner; to Moses, who 
said: Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy 
people (Ex. xxxii, 11); to Joshua, who said: Wherefore 
hast Thou at all brought this people over the Jordan (Josh. VII, 
7); and to David, who said: Why standest Thou afar off, 

1 V. supra, xxxix, 6. a E.V. ' For hath any said unto God: I have 

borne chastisement, though I offend not?' a I.e. take them for their sins. 

4 I will see that you recognise the justice of My actions. E.V. ' That which 
I see not.' 

5 The generations of the Flood and of the Separation of races. 

6 The Sodomites. According to this interpretation God is the speaker in 
these verses, defending Himself before Abraham against the charge of 
injustice. 

7 Reading ib (to him) instead of x 1 ? (not), and deriving ths from -ja, a 
branch, i.e. to his descendants. E.V. ' Would I keep silence concerning 
his boastings.' 

43° 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 10-11 

Lord, etc. (Ps. x, i). 1 Or his proud talk, or his fair (hin) 
array of words (Job he. cit.): his [sc. Abraham's] long 
speech was endowed with grace {hen) when he beseeched 
mercy for the Sodomites. 

ii. And Abraham answered and said: behold 
now, i have taken upon me to speak unto the 
Lord, who am but dust and ashes (xviii, 27). 
He said: Had Nimrod slain me, would I not have been 
dust, and had he burnt me, would I not have been ashes ? 2 
Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: 'Thou didst 
say, I am but dust and ashes; by thy life, I will 
give thy children atonement therewith,' as it says, And 
for the unclean they shall take of the ashes ('afar) of the 
burning of the purification from sin (Num. xix, 17) 3 ; also, 
And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the 
heifer (ib. 9). 

We learnt 4 : What was the ritual of a fast? 5 The Ark 
was carried out into the public square of the town and 
burnt ashes were sprinkled on the Ark. R. Judan b. R. 
Manasseh and R. Samuel b. Nahman disagreed. One 
maintained: [The ashes were to recall] the merit of 
Abraham, for it is written, I who am but dust and 
ashes. 6 But the other maintained that they were to 
recall the merit of Isaac 7 ; he learnt 'ashes' only. 8 The 
following statement of R. Judah b. Pazzi disagrees, for 
he would publicly announce : If the congregational beadle 
cannot get to anyone [to pour ashes on his head], let him 
take ashes himself and pour them on his own head. 9 
[That is not so, for] R. Judah b. Pazzi's announcement 
teaches that 'afar (dust) and efer (ashes) are identical. 10 

1 All these indirectly questioned God's justice. 
a V. supra, xxxviil, 13 ad fin. 

3 'Afar really means dust (of earth). * Ta'an. 15a. 
6 Specially proclaimed in times of distress. 

6 Thus either dust or ashes might be sprinkled on the heads of the people. 

7 Who might have been reduced to ashes as a burnt-offering. 

8 Not dust. 9 But not dust. This disagrees with the first view. 

10 Either could be taken. The text and meaning are doubtful, and the 
rendering is conjectural. 

43 » 



XLIX. 12-14] MIDRASH RABBAH 

12. PERADVENTURE THERE SHALL LACK FIVE OF 

the fifty righteous. R. tjiyya b. Abba said: 
Abraham wished to descend from fifty to five, 1 but the 
Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: 'Turn back/ 2 
R. Levi said: This may be compared to a clepsydra 3 
full of water; only as long as it contains water may the 
defending counsel plead; yet sometimes the judge desires 
him to continue his defence, and so he orders, 'Pour 
more water into it.' 4 

13. And he said: Oh, let not the Lord be 
angry . . . peradventure ten shall be found 
there (xvm, 32). And why ten? So that there might 
be sufficient for an assembly [of righteous men to pray] 
on behalf of all of them. 5 Another reason, why ten? 
Because at the generation of the Flood eight righteous 
people yet remained, 6 and the world was not given a 
respite for their sake. Another reason, why ten? Because 
he thought that there were ten there, viz. Lot, his wife, 
his four daughters and four sons-in-law. 7 R. Judah b. 
R. Simon and R. Hanin in R. Johanan's name said: 
Here ten were required, while in Jerusalem even one 
would have sufficed, 8 as it is written, Run ye to and fro 
in the streets of Jerusalem . . . and seek . . . if ye can 
find a man, if there be any that doeth justly (Jer. v, 1); 
and thus it says too, Adding one thing to another, to find 
out the account (Eccl. vn, 27). R. Isaac said: How far 
can an account be extended [for one city] ? As far as one 
man. 9 

14. And the Lord went His way, as soon as 
He had left off speaking to Abraham (xviii, 

1 Without the intermediate steps. He probably renders : Perad venture 
the fifty shall be lacking, and there be but five. a This is too great a 
jump. 3 Jast.: a water-clock used in courts of justice for measuring 
the time given for argument. * So too God desired Abraham to plead 
for the Sodomites, though He knew beforehand that it was useless (Mah.). 
5 Ten is a quorum for public prayer. • Noah, his three sons, and 
their wives. 7 But he was mistaken in thinking them righteous 
(M.K.). 8 But not even one was to be found. 
9 Mah.: Translating, the righteousness of one man saving one town. 

432 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [XLIX. 14 

33). A judge waits as long as the advocate is pleading; 
when the advocate becomes silent, the judge rises [to go]. 
Similarly, And the Lord went His way, as soon 
as He had left off speaking to Abraham. Again, 
an advocate goes on pleading as long as the judge is willing 
to pay attention to him, but when the judge rises to go, 
the advocate becomes silent. Thus, And the Lord 

WENT HlS WAY, AS SOON AS He HAD LEFT OFF 
SPEAKING TO ABRAHAM; AND ABRAHAM RETURNED 

unto his place. Again, as long as the defender pleads 
and the judge shows himself willing to hear, the accuser waits ; 
when the judge rises and the advocate is silent, the accuser 
sets forth on his mission. Similarly: And the Lord 
went His way, as soon as He had left off 
speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned 
unto his place. This is followed by, And the two 
angels came to Sodo?n at even (Gen. xix, 1). 



433 Ff 



L. 1-2] 

Chapter L (VAYERA) 

i. And the two angels came to Sodom at even 
etc. (xix, i). It is written, And the living creature ran 
(razo) and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning 
(Ezek. I, 14). R. Aibu said: Not razoth (running) is 
written but 'razc>\ they are eager (razin) to perform 
their mission. 1 'As the appearance of a flash of lightning' 
(bazak) : R. Judah b. R. Simon said in the name of R. Levi 
b. Parta: [Like the flames breaking forth] when one 
scatters (bozek) olive refuse in a stove. R. tliyya b. Abba 
said: It was like wind driving sparks (zika). The Rabbis 
said: Like a lightning-flash to the eye. 2 Now [returning 
to our subject,] they take leave of Abraham at noon, and 
arrive in Sodom in the evening! 3 The fact is, however, 
that they were angels of mercy, and they delayed, thinking 
that perhaps Abraham might find something in their 
favour ; but when he found nothing in their favour, THE 
two angels came to Sodom at even. 

2. Then the two angels came, etc. But He is 
at one with Himself and who can turn Him? and what His 
soul desirethy even that He doeth (Job xxm, 13). It was 
taught*: One angel does not perform two missions, nor 
do two angels together perform one mission, 5 yet you read 
that two [angels came to Sodom]? The fact is, however, 
that Michael announced his tidings [to Abraham] and 
departed: Gabriel was sent to overturn Sodom, and 
Rafael to rescue Lot; hence, Then the two angels 
came, etc. 

It is written, He sent forth upon them the fierceness of 
His anger, Wrath, Indignation, and Trouble, d sending of 

1 Deriving razo from razah, to be willing, desire. 

2 As quickly as the eye perceives a flash of lightning. Cur. edd. (as 
rendered by Y.T. and Jast.): like a wind scattering clouds. 

s . Surely angels that travel like a flash of lightning should have reached 

Sodom much earlier. 4 B.M. 866. 

B Translating: And He (God) performs His purpose through one (angel). 

434 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [L. 2-3 

messengers of evil (Ps. lxxviii, 49) 1 ; yet you say, Two 
[angels]! But the fact is that Michael announced his 
tidings and departed ; Gabriel was sent to overturn Sodom, 
and Rafael to save Lot. Hence, Then the two angels 

CAME. 2 

[And the two angels came to Sodom.] Here 
you call them angels, whereas earlier they were termed men ? 
Earlier, when the Shechinah was above them, they were 
men; but as soon as the Shechinah departed from them 
they assumed the form of angels. R. Levi said: To 
Abraham, whose [religious] strength was great, they 
looked like men 3 ; but to Lot they appeared as angels, 
because his strength was feeble. 4 R. Ilunia said: Before 
they performed their mission they were called men; 
having performed their mission, they assumed the style 
of angels. R. Tanhuma said: They may be likened to a 
man who received a governorship from the king. Before 
he reaches the seat of his authority, he goes like an ordinary 
citizen. Similarly, before they performed their mission, 
they are called men; having performed it, they assumed 
the style of angels. 

3. Sedomah (to Sodom). It was taught in R. 
Nehemiah's name: When a word requires a lamed as a 
prefix you add heh as a suffix [instead], e.g. Sedomah 
(to Sodom), se'irah (to Seir), mizraimah (to Egypt), 
haranah (to Haran). 5 An objection was raised: Yet it is 
written, The wicked shall return lisheolah — to the nether- 
world (Ps. ix, 18). 6 Said R. Abba b. Zabda: That means 
to the nethermost compartment of hell. 7 

Ba'ereb (at even). The evening of Sodom had 
come, 8 its sun had set, and its doom was sealed. R. Levi 
said: The Holy One, blessed be He, judges the nations 

1 The Midrash regards Wrath, etc., as proper nouns, each being the name 
of a particular angel ; each was sent alone on a separate mission. 

2 This passage is omitted in cur. edd. * Because he was as familiar 
with angels as with men. * Hence he was overawed by them. 

5 Hebrew nono instead of dhd 1 ?, etc. 6 Heb. nnKt? 1 ?, i.e. with both 

the prefix i and the suffix n. 7 Hence the double form is used. 
8 Reading ba'ereb as two words ba 'ereb, evening had come. 

435 



L. 3-4] MIDRASH RABBAH 

at night only, when they are asleep from their sins 3 ; 
while He judges Israel by day only, when they are engaged 
in good deeds. Hence it is written, And He will judge 
the world (tebel) in righteousness, He will minister judgment 
to the peoples with equity (ib. 9).* 

And Lot sat in the Gate of Sodom. Sat is 
written defectively, 3 intimating that only that day had he 
been appointed by them chief justice. 4 There were five 
principal judges in Sodom: False-Principles, Lying- 
Speech, Cad, Justice-Perverter, and Man-Flayer, while 
Lot was their chief judge. When he told them something 
which pleased them, they would say to him, ' Go further 
(Gen. xix, 9 V take a higher seat'; but if he said some- 
thing which displeased them, they would say, ' This one 
fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs play the judge ! ' 
(ib.). 

4. And Lot saw them, and rose up to meet 
them . . . and he said: Behold now, my lords, 
turn aside, I pray you (xix, i f.). R, Judan inter- 
preted: Even if I am not worthy, divert your course for 
my sake. R. Huna said: [He asked them:] 'Come to me 
by a circuitous route, so that you may not be seen coming 
to me/ And tarry all night, and wash your 
feet. Abraham asked them to wash first and then stay 
with him, 6 whereas Lot first invited them to stay with him 
and then to wash. The truth is that Abraham wa s particular 
about the pollution of idolatry, whereas Lot had no 
objection to it. Some say: This too Lot did with fore- 
thought, so that when they [the angels] went o ut, the dust 

1 So that His judgment can be more lenient. 

2 Tebel (world) is regarded as a contrast to peoples, and hence refers to 
Israel, and the verse is understood thus: He judges Israel when they 
perform their righteousness, i.e. by day, but the peoples with grace, 
i.e. by night, when they are not engaged in wrongdoing. 

8 aar» instead of aan\ 4 In the gate was the place where justice 
was dispensed. s E.V. ' stand back*. 

6 The Heb. linah means to spend the night. Abraham of course did not 
invite them for the night, but the Midrash means that he asked them to 
wash their feet before accepting his hospitality; v. xvnr, 4 f. 

43 6 



GENESIS (VAYERA) [L. 4-5 

would be seen on their feet, 1 and the Sodomites should 
not ask, ' Where have they spent the night ?'And they 
said: Nay; but we will abide in the broad 
place all night. [This teaches that] you may refuse 
an ordinary person, but not a great person. 2 A n d h e 
urged (wayyifzar) them greatly (xix, 3): 
Through them he brought anger (af) and trouble (zarah) 
into his home. 3 And they turned aside to him. 
This supports R. Huna's contention that he asked them 
to take a circuitous path to him that they might not be 
seen entering his house. 4 And he made them a feast. 
He had been reared in the home of Abraham who showed 
hospitality to travellers. R. Isaac said: A fierce quarrel 5 
broke out over the salt, for he [Lot] said to her [his wife], 
'Give these guests a little salt,' to which she replied, 
'Do you want to introduce here that evil practice too?* 

5. But before they lay down, they commenced 
questioning him, 'What is the nature of the people of 
this city?' 6 'In every town there are people good and 
bad/ he replied, 'but here the overwhelming majority 
are bad.' The men of the city, the men of 
Sodom, compassed the house round, both 
young and old — not one of them objecting. And 

THEY CALLED UNTO LOT, AND SAID UNTO HIM, etc. 

(xix, 5). R. Joshua b. Levi said in the name of R. Padiah: 
Lot prayed for mercy on their behalf the whole of that 
night, and they would have heeded him; but immediately 
they [the Sodomites] demanded, Bring them out 

UNTO US, THAT WE MAY KNOWTHEM — for sexual 



1 If they left after spending the night without washing. 

2 Since they accepted Abraham's invitation without demur. 

3 A play on ' wayyifzar \ The anger and trouble are those felt and caused 
by the Sodomites (Y.M.). 

* Otherwise there is no point in repeating that they turned aside. 

5 This is a play on the text, And did bake unleavened bread, 
Heb. mazzoth, which is read mazzuth, a quarrel — he stirred up a quarrel. 

6 The verse is apparently divided: But before they lay down, 
they asked him about The men of the city. Then The men 
of Sodom came, etc. 



L. 5-7] MIDRASH RABBAH 

purposes 1 — they said to him, 'Hast thou here (poh) any 
besides (ib. xix, 12)? Until now you had the right to plead 
in their defence, but from now you have no right to plead 
for them.' 2 

6. And Lot went out unto them to the door 

. . . AND HE SAID". I PRAY YOU, MY BRETHREN, 
DO NOT SO WICKEDLY. BEHOLD NOW, I HAVE TWO 
DAUGHTERS . . . ONLY UNTO THESE (HA-EL) MEN 

(xix, 6fF.): they are powerful men. 3 [Another interpreta- 
tion]: they are men of godly strength. 4 Forasmuch as 

THEY ARE COME UNDER THE SHADOW OF MY ROOF: 

not in my merit, but in the merit of Abraham. 5 Another 
interpretation is that the verse Forasmuch as they 

ARE COME UNDER THE SHADOW OF MY ROOF teaches 

that she [Lot's wife] turned the house against them, saying 
to him, ' If you want to receive them, receive them in your 
portion/ 6 

7. And they said: Stand back (xix, 9) — out of 
the way! And they said: This one fellow came 
in to sojourn, and he will needs play the 
judge — you wish to destroy the judgments of your 
predecessors! 7 R. Menahema said in R. Bibi's name: 
The Sodomites made an agreement among themselves 
that whenever a stranger visited them they should force 
him to sodomy and rob him of his money; even him of 
whom it is written, That they may keep the way of the 
Lord, to do righteousness and justice (Gen. xvm, 19), 8 
we would use him bestially and rob him of his money. 

1 I.e. pederasty, 'know 7 being understood as in Gen. iv, 1 : And the man 
knew Eve his wife, and she conceived. 2 Reading peh (mouth) for poh 
(here) : have you still a mouth to plead for them, after such iniquitous 
demands? 3 This is the interpretation of ' ha-el\ 4 Translating : 
men of God. 5 M.K. ' shadow ' is understood in the sense of protector : 
they are come in the merit of the protector of my roof, sc. Abraham. 
6 This stresses the word korathi, lit. 'my rafter' — she would only let 
them stay under a particular part of the house. Y.M. translates 
differently. 7 Who forbade hospitality. Possibly the verse is translated : 
and he would judge the judgments — condemning them and introducing 
new ones. 8 Sc. Abraham. 

438 



genesis (vayera) [l. 8-9 

8. But the men put forth their hand and 
brought lot into the house to them . . . and 
they smote the men that were at the door 
(pethah) of the house with blindness (xix, 10). 
They were first to do the evil, and they were the first to 
be punished. 1 Similarly, And He blotted out every living 
substance, etc. (ib. vn, 23): he who was the first to do 
wrong was the first to be punished. Further, And her 
belly shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away (Num. v, 27) : 
the limb that was first to sin was the first to be punished. 2 

SO THAT THEY WEARIED (WAYYILE'u) THEMSELVES 

TO find the door: they were maddened, as in the 
verse, For My people is foolish — ewil (Jer. IV, 22) . 3 

9. And the men said to Lot . . . for we will 
destroy this place (xix, 13). R. Levi said in R. 
Nahman's name: Because the ministering angels revealed 
God's secret, they were banished from their precincts 
a hundred and thirty-eight years. 4 R. Tanhuma expressed 
it in the word kelah. 5 R. Hama b. Ktanina said: [They 
were punished] because they expressed themselves boast- 
fully, For we will destroy this place. 

And Lot went out, and spoke unto his sons- 
in-law [and] those who were taking 6 his 
daughters (xix, 14). He had four daughters, two 
betrothed and two married, for it is not written, 'Who 
were married to his daughters/ but Who were taking 
[i.e. marrying] his daughters. 7 But he seemed 

1 The house was encompassed by 'young and old', 'young* first; hence 
they were smitten with blindness, 'Both young and old' — young 
first. 2 Cur. edd. add several other examples. 8 Cur. edd. add 
other interpretations. 4 They were driven out of the sacred precincts 
within the Divine barrier, until they appeared at Jacob's dream (Mah.). 
The calculation is given in Th. fi He used the word fcelah (stalk or jet) 
to denote this period, its numerical value beng 138. 

6 E.V. 'who married'; v. n. 7. 

7 ' Betrothed ' in this sense means married, but before the home-taking 
ceremony (huppah), without which the marriage might not be con- 
summated; v. £>id. za. The Midrash understands sons-in-law 
to mean those who were already married, and those who were 
taking his daughters as different ones. Hence it is assumed 
that there were two (as in v. 15) of each. 

43Q 



L. 9-II] MIDRASH RABBAH 

UNTO HIS SONS-I